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  1. Hi all, I just launched a podcast focused on homebrew games. We're using a "game club" format where two friends and I pick one game to play for each episode, then get together after a month to talk about it. The first episode is more of an introductory discussion among the three of us about our histories with games and what we each bring to the table. I would like to think we represent three somewhat different perspectives, with each of us shaped by our professional experiences around the game, tech, and film/video industries. You can listen to a short (45 second) promo clip on our main podcast feed here, as well as our "episode zero" introductory show. Our angle is sort of "smart commentary by way of stupid humor," which... should be obvious from the trailer. For links to Discord and other social media, check out https://linktr.ee/homebrewgameclub. I'll be adding new episodes to the VGS Blog section as they post. Feel free to use this thread for general comments. We are just getting off the ground and are always looking for ways to improve, so constructive suggestions or other feedback are greatly appreciated! Episode 0: Introductions Episode 1: Lizard HBGC Extra: The [Retracted] List of NES Homebrew Games Episode 2: Deadeus HBGC Extra: Retro-Inspired Indie Games Episode 3: Witch n' Wiz HBGC Interview: Matt Hughson Episode 4: NEScape! Midwest Gaming Classic 2022 Recap Episode 5: Space Raft
  2. Voting for the NES Homebrew Hall of Fame is open through May 31, 2022! All you have to do is click the link below, read the instructions, and post your votes in the comment section. No paid Substack subscription is required. Please share this with any of your NES homebrew friends, as I'm hoping to make the voting as robust and inclusive as possible! https://retrostack.substack.com/p/the-nes2-hall-of-fame-voting-period?s=w
  3. VGS Homebrew on the Horizon: Whereas the purpose of the VGS Homebrew Almanac is to keep an up-to-date list of cartridge homebrew releases that are currently available or whose production runs have ended, this list will provide an up-to-date list of cartridge homebrew releases within sight to one degree or another. Part I of this list will include live pre-orders, either through the developer’s website or a crowdfunding page such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Part II of this list will only include homebrew games that previously had pre-orders open, but which are now closed (e.g. a crowdfunding campaign has ended and no further pre-orders are being taken). This section will serve as a sort of limbo for games that will be available soon and will therefore soon be moved to the Homebrew Almanac. Completed roms for games where the developer is planning or considering a physical cart run will also be found here. Part III of this list will be devoted to homebrew projects that developers have announced are in the works, but which are not yet available for pre-order, though demos may have been released to whet our appetites. The line between which projects have been abandoned and which retain a glimmer of hope is a fuzzy one, so developers please pm me if you wish to be added/removed. Part IV is dedicated to the memory of homebrew projects which, as far as I can tell, have been abandoned. This may be because the developer has gone dormant on this project or in general, or a developer had a page for this game that has since vanished. May they one day be resurrected. Links will be to a game’s individual page, development blog, VGS thread, Twitter account, or some combination thereof to provide the community with the best possible access to news. But if developers would like me to link elsewhere, please tell me. *The usual disclaimer, I am sure that there are mistakes and games that slipped my attention in what follows. Feel free to point them out or inform us all of a change in a game's status. If you are the creator of a game and you would like to have your work included at a set date/time, please feel free to send me a pm. Part I: Homebrew Available for Pre-Order NES/Famicom Available for Pre-Order: -The Adventures of Panzer CAD$80 CIB Link -Alwa's Awakening $60 CIB Link -Amazon's Training Road $60 CIB Link -Blazing Rangers €55 CIB Link -Choumiryou-Party (FC) ¥9000 CIB Link -Dungeons & Doomknights $48 CIB Link -Full Quiet $60 CIB Link -GunTneR $35 CIB Link -KUBO 1 & 2 CIB Link -Mawthorne $55 CIB Link -Montezuma's Revenge $50 CIB Link -MOON8 re-release (chiptune) €40 C Link -Orange Island £100 CIB Link -Reknum: Fantasy of Dreams C Link -Roniu's Tale $60 CIB Link -Skeler Boy €50 CIB Link -Soko Banana $60 CIB Link -Super Bat Puncher Demo (FC) €45 CIB Link -Temple Dilemma $60 CIB Link -Witch N' Wiz $60 CIB Link -You Are Error (music/video) $49 CIB Link -Zdey the Game €50 CIB Link SNES Available for Pre-Order: -Chip's Challenge $50 CIB Link -Eyra - The Crow Maiden $50 CIB Link Gameboy/Gameboy Color Available for Pre-Order: -Busty Bunny: The Bounty Babe Link -D*Fuzed $50 CIB Link -Digital Monster C$30 C Link -Digital Retro Park (chiptune) €40 CIB Link -Doc Cosmos £40 CIB Link -The First Project £30 CB Link -Flying Arrows €69 CIB Link -Gameboy Camera Gallery 2022 $40 C Link -GB Productivity Suite CA$30 CIB Link -Gelatinous: Humanity Lost $50 CIB Link -Glory Hunters MX$1,400 CIB Link -How did I get here? £50 CIB Link -Infinity CA$90 CIB Link -In the Dark £40 CIB Link -Jill's Day Comiket 99 (demo) ¥3,500 C Link -Kendan and the Gem of Erú AUS$90 CIB Link -The Machine $60 CIB Link -Pineapple Kid £40 CIB Link -Pine Creek $60 CIB Link -Planet Hop £50 CIB Link -POWA! €50 CIB Link -Rox OS $55 CIB Link -The Shapeshifter 2 €49 CIB Link -Skeler Boy €50 CIB Link -Space Ex: The Human Race to Mars $60 CIB Link -Tales of Monsterland £40 CIB Link -Teenage Gizzard Gameboy Game King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard €35 CIB Link -The Year After $90 CIB Link Gameboy Advance Available for Pre-Order: -Avalar (music/video) $35 CB Link -Bowls for Breakfast (music/video) $35 CB Link -Bytes of Sound (music/video) $35 CB Link -Desire (music/video) $35 CB Link -Goodboy Galaxy Link Sega Master System Available for Pre-Order: Genesis/Mega Drive Available for Pre-Order: -Affinity Sorrow $68 CIB Link -Alice Sisters €45 CIB Link -Astebros €60 CIB Link -Black Jewel $60 CIB Link -Bone Marrow $60 CIB Link -Bone Marrow Rebirth $60 CIB Link -Chip's Challenge $50 CIB Link -The Cursed Knight €45 CIB Link -Eyra - The Crow Maiden $50 CIB Link -Insane Pain €38 CIB Link -Irena Genesis Metal Fury €45 CIB Link -Metal Dragon €55 CIB Link -Mikeyeldey95 (chiptune by Mikeyeldey) $20CAD CIB Link -Paprium $169 CIB Link -Reknum: Fantasy of Dreams €60 CIB Link Sega Game Gear Available for Pre-Order: -Heroes Against Demons €59 CIB Link Turbografx-16 Available for Pre-Order: -Electronic Lifestyle (chiptune by Remute) €35 C Link Part II: Pre-Orders Closed or Completed But Not Yet Released on Cart NES/Famicom Pre-Order Closed or Will be Available Soon: -Action 53, Volume 4: Actually 54 Link -The Arm Wrestling Classic Link -Assault!! On Planet Beelzebub -Bowels of the Beast -Copper Jacket Link -Gamer Quest (fka Nintendo Quest) Link -MGC Arcade Pack Link -Mystic Searches Link -Nix: The Paradox Relic Link -Nova the Squirrel Link -Saturn Smash Link -Slow Mole Link -What Remains Link SNES Pre-Order Closed or Will be Available Soon: -Super MIDI Pak Link Game Boy Pre-Order Closed or Will be Available Soon: -Night of the Living Dead Link Game Boy Advance Pre-Order Closed or Will be Available Soon: Sega Master System Pre-Order Closed or Will be Available Soon: Genesis/Mega Drive Pre-Order Closed or Will be Available Soon: -Jessie Jaeger in Cleopatra's Curse Link -Phantom Gear $50 CIB Link Part III: Homebrew In-Development NES/Famicom In-Development: -Adventures in Cavyverse Link -Afterworld Deluxe Link -Alien Isolation Link -Bad Hare Day Link -Cityzen Link -Cobol's Laboratory Link -Courier -Data Link -Depths Link & Link -Diversion Link -The Excitables Link -Fie (chiptune by Zi) Link -Fighting HRD (FC) Link -Force Bot Link -Former Dawn Link -Gulpy Link -Gypsum and the Travelers Link -Halcyon Link & Link -Hamburgers En Route to Switzerland Link -HaraForce (FC) Link -Hyperdrive Soul Link -The Inversion Project Link -Jester Link -Janus Link -Knuckle Knight Link -The Last Tower Link -Level Zero (chiptune by Zi) Link -Light from Within Link -Malasombra Link -The Meating Link -Moon Fest (FC) -Piopow (FC) Link -"Project Borscht" (a Frankengraphics tale) Link -"Project Sword" (a Tolbert tale) Link -Retro Artists of the Future, Vol 1. (chiptune compilation) -Retro Space Championship Link -Rumblefest '89 Link -Sam’s Journey Link -Saru★Kani Panic Link -Saturday Man Link -Save the Leopard Cats! (FC) -The Shapeshifter 1 & 2 Link -Snakey Link -Sun Wukong vs Robot Link -Space Soviets Link -Super Tilt Bros. Link -Swords & Runes 2 -Touhou Rououmu (FC) Link -Turtle Party Link -Turtle Rescue: Storm Watch Link -Unicorn -UNO -Vice: Magic City Mayhem Link -Walter and Billy's CONQuest Link -The White Room Link -Wiz Scape Link -Wordle Link -(untitled Chinese New Year game) (ITG-Soft) (FC) -(untitled chiptune album by Electric Dragon) (FC) Link -(untitled RPG) (in association with Amaweks) Link -(untitled shmup by nia) Link SNES In-Development: -Biz-Billes Link -Bloody 'n' Mary Link -Danmaku Link -Justice Beaver – The Great Timber Tantrum Link -Nova the Squirrel 2 Link -Super Paw-n Gameboy/Gameboy Color In-Development: -4000AD (chiptune by PROTODOME) Link -Coria and the Sunken City Link -Fields of Eutomia Link -Green Cube Link -Gun Ship Link -Inspector Waffles Early Days Link -Kitori Link -Kudzu Link -Magipanels Link -Pet the Dog Link -Postal Pete Link -Princess Gardening Link -The Third Shift Link -(untitled Tronimal chiptune) Link Game Boy Advance In-Development: -Unity (chiptune by Remute) Link Sega Master System In-Development: Genesis/Mega Drive In-Development: -The Alexandra Project Link & Link -Apeel’s Court Link & Link -Arapuca Link -Aratu Brothers + Shaolin Carcará Link -ASAP PLZ Link -Asteborg: Castaway Link -Bio Evil Link -Bite the Bullet: First Course Link -The Destroyer Link -Dreams Link -Ellenica: Dusk of the Gods Link -Gears of Rage Link -HorgiHugh Link -Journey to Oblivion Link -Lethal Wedding Link -Mega Box Reloaded -Mega Darkula Link -Perlin & Pinpin Link -Shrine Maiden Shizuka Link -Space Madness Link -Thunder Paw Link -Verge World: Icarus Rising Link -ZPF Link Part IV: Homebrew Purgatorio NES/Famicom In-Development: -Almost Hero 2 Link -Balls and Booty Link -The Banketh Link -Bleu Bleu Link -Cotton & Candy Link -Deal or No Deal -Dimension Shift Link & Link -Epicade -Family Vacation -Gatsby -The Gift of Discernment (aka Isometric Horror Game) Link & Link -High Noon Knockout -In Cod We Trust -Isolation Link -Isshokuta Link -Knil Link -NOFX Cover Cart Link -Project P Link -Rival Swarms -Space Beats -The Sword of Ianna Link -The Tenth Knight Link -Transamnia Link -The Wizard: Story Unknown Link -You Only Live Thrice -(untitled game by iamerror) Link -(untitled game by Punch) Link SNES In-Development: -Dorven Digger Link Game Boy In-Development: -Frog Knight Link -Last Crown Warriors Link Game Boy Advance In-Development: Sega Master System In-Development: -DARC Link -Dead Gunner Link -Lain vs. the Castle of Evil Link -Lost Raider Link Genesis/Mega Drive In-Development: -A(...)M(...)96 $169 CIB Link -Chant Link -The Chaos Citadel Link -Crypt of Dracula Link -Field of Nightmares -Kung Fu UFO Link -Magot Link -The Shifting Catacombs Link -The Viking and the Ninja Link & Link -Wanted Link -We Got Dungeons Link Part V: Malebolge
  4. VGS Homebrew Almanac formerly known as The Currently Available Homebrew Thread: The purpose of this thread is to keep an up-to-date list of cartridge homebrew releases that are currently in production for the NES, SNES, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Sega Master System, and Genesis. This list is for those who need their homebrew right now (well, now plus shipping time and something for the tax man). For those looking for NES homebrew roms, NESworld is the place to go. For those curious what is included in each entry of the Action 53 series, NESdev has a wiki for you. Part I of this list will only include currently available physical releases (available that is, from the original producer (I can't watch every eBay auction). Hacks, repros, and re-releases will not be included (but this might be a good place to also flag pirated work so we can call out theft where it happens). This list will include games as well as chiptune carts. Variants can be included where there is a substantive difference in gameplay; limited editions, variants of the physical cart itself, or minor in-game differences will not be distinguished. Part II of this list will include defunct homebrew games that are no longer available from their original source but can be found on the secondary market. This section is intended to serve as a reference for collectors new and old who wish to enrich their collections as well as their lives with what was once brewed but alas is brewed no more (at least until Ferris re-posts his fairly exhaustive Aftermarket Price Guide here or on a dedicate site). For simplicity’s sake, links will be to a game’s individual page/thread (or as close as possible). *Please note, I am sure that there are mistakes and games that slipped my attention in what follows. Feel free to point them out or inform us all of a change in a game's status. If you are the creator of a game and you would like to have your work included at a set date/time, please feel free to send me a pm. Part I: The Currently Available Homebrew List Currently Available NES/Famicom Releases: -0-to-X NA Edition $75 CIB Link -2 in 1 Geminim/Siamond $27 C Link -8Bit Rhythm Land $45 CIB Link -8-bit XMAS 2017 $75 C Link -8-bit XMAS 2018 $46 C Link -8-bit XMAS 2019 $46 C Link -8-bit XMAS 2021 $48 C Link -Action 53, Volume 2: Double Action 53 $48 CIB Link -Action 53 Volume 3: Revenge of the Twins $50 CIB Link -Alfonzo's Arctic Adventure $40 CIB Link -Almika - The Star Rider Denetsu Gaiden $40 C Link -Almost Hero $50 CIB Link -Alter Ego €25 CIB Link -AO $35 CIB Link -Armed for Battle $52 CIB Link -Assimilate $35 C Link -Basse Def Adventures €31 CIB Link -Bat Lizard Bonanza $30 C PM johnvanderhoe -Battle Kid Dangerous Trap $20 CIB Link -Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril $36 C Link -Battle Kid 2: Mountain of Torment $49 CIB Link -Beerslinger $35 CIB Link -Billionaire Banshee $50 CIB Link -Black Box Challenge $40 C Link -Bovinium Quest $30 CIB Link -Brandon You're Going to Hell $60 CIB Link -Candelabra: Estoscerro $60 CIB Link -Carpet Shark $50 CIB Link -Chumlee's Adventure: The Quest for Pinky $67.50 CIB Link -Chunkout 2 $25 C Link -City Trouble $35 CIB Link -Creepy Brawlers $50 CIB Link -Doodle World $55 CIB Link -Draiocht $40 CIB Link -Dushlan $40 CIB Link -Eskimo Bob $30 C Link -Exit Loop $30 CIB Link -Expedition $75 CIB + Cards Link -Eyra-The Crow Maiden $50 CIB Link -Family Picross $40 CIB Link -Fire and Rescue $50 CIB Link -Flea! £50 CIB Link -Galactic Ascension $45 CIB Link -Get'em Gary! $40 CIB Link -Ghoul Grind: Night of the Necromancer $46 CIB Link -Gold Guardian Gun Girl (NES) $60 CIB Link -Gotta Protectors: Amazon’s Running Diet $40 C Link -Haradius Zero (FC) ¥10,000 CIB Link -Haratyler (FC) ¥6,000 CIB Link -Haunted: Halloween '85 $60 CIB Link (NES) & $45 C Link (FC) -Haunted: Halloween '86 $60 CIB Link (NES) & $45 C Link (FC) -HBWC 2012 $45 C Link -The Incident: Remastered $60 CIB Link -Jet Paco €25 CIB Link -Jim Power $55 CIB Link -Justice Duel $45 CIB Link -Kirakira Star Night DX (FC) $53 CIB Link -KUBO 3 $30 C PM dale_coop -L’Abbaye des Morts (FC) €45 CIB Link -L’Abbaye des Morts (NES) €45 CIB Link -Little Medusa $60 CIB Link -Lizard (NES) $60 CIB Link; $55 CIB Link; & €45 CIB Link; (FC) €45 CIB Link -Log Jammers $50 CIB Link -Lucky Penguin $50 CIB Link -Machine Cave $40 CIB Link -Meet Me in the Parking Lot $60 CIB Link -Meteor Swarm $35 C Link -Micro Mages €45 CIB Link; (FC) €45 CIB Link -Mojonian Tales $48 CIB Link -More Glider $35 C Link -Multidude $40 CIB Link -Mystic Origins $50 CIB Link -Mystic Pillars $36 C Link -Nebs 'n Debs $48 CIB Link; (FC) €45 CIB Link -Neo Heiankyo Alien (FC) $45 CIB Link -NES Virus Cleaner $35 CIB Link -Nighttime Bastards $47 CIB Link -Ninja I & II $49 CIB Link -Oof McBrewster $45 CIB Link -Pegs $30 C Link -Pico Pico (Basse Def Adventures) (FC) ¥3,124 CIB Link -Piss the Fish (FC) $60 CIB PM fcgamer -Plummet Challenge Game $30 CIB Link -Porun-chan no Onigiri Daisuki ¥7,963 CIB Link -Power Coloring $35 C Link -Project Blue $60 CIB Link & 50 €CIB Link -Quadralords $35 C Link -Quest Forge - By Order of Kings $40 Link -Rainbow Brite: Journey to the Rainbow Land €39,90 CIB Link -Rollie $60 CIB Link -Sgt. Helmet Training Day €50 CIB Link -Sir Abadol €30 CIB Link -Snakky $20 CIB Link -Solaris $35 C Link -Space Raft $60 CIB Link (keep an eye out for the coming rom for Space Raft Arcade, which Jordan is bringing to MGC!) -Spirit Impel $70 CIB Link -Study Hall $33 C Link -Super NeSnake 2 $34 C Link -Super Painter $40 CIB Link -Super Uwol €25 CIB Link -Swords and Runes RE $45 CIB Link -Swords and Runes III LE $250 CIB Link -Swords and Runes III NA $75 CIB Link -Troll Burner $20 C Link -Trophy $60 CIB Link -Turtle Paint $52 CIB Link -Twelve Seconds $35 C Link -Twin Dragons €45 CIB Link; (FC) €45 CIB Link -UXO RE $35 CIB PM Neodolphino -Wampus C PM johnvanderhoe & Link -Wart Worm Wingding C PM johnvanderhoe & Link -Yeah Yeah Beebiss II $30 C Link Currently Available NES/Famicom Music Carts: -8Bit Music Power Final $33 CIB Link -A Hole New World Soundtrack (chiptune) $45 CIB Link (NES) & €40 CIB Link (FC) -bitpuritans: 2A03 Puritans RE $50 C Link -Creeping it Real $40 CIB Link -Famicompo Pico 2014 $50 C Link -Famimimidi $200 C Link -Mega Ran: RNDM $50 CIB Link -Sergio Elisondo: A Winner Is You $35 C Link -Zi: Quiet $35 C Link -Zi: Silicon Statue $35 C Link -Zi: Thornbury $35 C Link -Zi: [Welcome to] Eville $35 C Link Currently Available SNES/Super Famicom Releases: -Fork Parker's Crunch Out $50 CIB Link -The Last Super $30 C Link -Little Medusa $60 CIB Link -Nekotako $72 CIB Link -Old Towers $50 CIB Link -Quiz Impact Habit's Great Adventure (SFC) ¥10,780 CIB Link -Super Sudoku $40 C Link -Sydney Hunter & the Caverns of Death $40 CIB Link -Yo Yo Shuriken $50 CIB Link Currently Available SNES/Super Famicom Music Carts: -The Cult of Remute €36 C Link Currently Available Gameboy/Gameboy Color Releases: -Adulting $22.08 C Link -Airaki $15 C Link -Alien Invasion $28.75 CIB Link -Another Dracula's Castle ¥4,730 CIB Link -Asteroids Chasers €45 CIB Link -Bingo Machine ¥3,480 C Link -Black Castle $20.33 C Link -Bonesy $15.27 C Link -Burger Kitchen ¥8,800 CIB Link -Color Lines DX $18.40 C Link -Cubic Style GB Flash Cartridge with Illustration ¥1,000 C Link -Dangan $25 C Link -Death Planet $18.40 C Link -Die and Retry $15 C Link -Dimeo's Jukebox $69.69 CAD CIB Link -Dino's Offline Adventure $15 C Link -DMG Deals Damage €40 CIB Link -Dracula’s Castle ¥4,400 CIB Link -Dragonborne £40 CIB Link -Escape 2042 $30 CIB Link -Flashin' CIB Link -Flooder $46.79 CIB Link -Fullswing ¥3,300 C Link -GB Dot Illustration (Quiz Impact Illustration Collection) (GB Color) ¥4,500 C Link -GB Dot Illustration (Technos Japan Kon) ¥4,200 C Link -GB Dot Illustration (Tomoe Yamane-Game Impact Collaboration) ¥4,000 C Link -Genesis $50 CIB Link -Ghostly Labyrinth $25 CIB Link -Gun Ship $26 C Link -Guns & Riders $15 C Link -Infinitron $20 CIB Link -Into the Blue $25 C Link -Konbu-cahn Gaiden ¥6,050 CIB Link -Leo Legend €25 C Link -Lunar Journey €25 C Link -Micro Doctor €25 C Link -Mona and the Witch's Hat Deluxe $25 C Link -Museum on a Cart €69 CB Link -Oni $56.32 CB Link -Petris $18.40 C Link -Quartet $18.40 C Link -Quest Arrest $35 CIB Link -Quiz Impact Habit’s Great Adventure ¥5,550 CIB Link -Repair-chan's Repair Daisakusen ¥ 6,380 CIB Link -Retroid $20 CIB Link -The Retrospekt.com.au Retro Gaming Museum The Game AVCon 2019 $15.27 C Link -Saeko-sensei’s Sex Appeal Blackjack ¥5,280 CIB Link -Scary Maze Game $18.74 C Link -The Shapeshifter €49 CIB Link -Sheep it Up! €40 CIB Link -Submarine 9 €25 C Link -Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe €49 CIB Link -Tower of Hanoi $18.40 C Link -Where is my body? €34 CIB Link -Wing Warriors €25 CIB Link Currently Available Gameboy Music Carts: -ASM 2016 Christmas Card $25 C Link -Heebie-GBs 2014 $40 C Link -Heebie-GBs 2019 $40 C Link -NES Rocky Theme ¥5,500 CB Link -Remute: Living Electronics €30 C Link Currently Available GBA Releases: -HomeBrew GamePack $40 C (?) Link -Miko Para ¥4,500 CIB Link -Motocross Challenge $40 C (?) Link -Powder $35 CIB Link -XE GamePack $50 C (?) Link Currently Available GBA Releases: -Slow Magic: Δ $40 C (?) Link Currently Available Sega Master System Releases: -Baru Baru €45 CIB Link -Flight of Pigarus €50 CIB Link -Heroes Against Demons €45 CIB Link -Prisonnier 2 €45 CIB Link -Voyage-A Sorceress' Vacation €45 CIB Link Currently Available Genesis/Mega Drive Releases: -16Bit Rhythm Land $60 CIB Link -Alien Cat 2 $50 CIB Link -Arkagis Revolution $50 CIB Link (Mega Cat) & €45 CIB Link (Broke Studio) -Balaio de Jogos (4-in-1) 99.90 R$ CB Link -Cannon Fire Chaos $50 CIB Link -Coffee Crisis $50 CIB Link -The Curse of Illmoore Bay $60 CIB Link -Debtor $60 CIB Link -Demons of Asteborg €69 CIB Link -Devwill Too $50 CIB Link -Escape 2042 $40 CIB Link -Fight for Vengeance $60 CIB Link -Foxy Land $60 CIB Link -Gluf $50 CIB Link -Handy Harvy $35 CIB Link -Kromasphere YAGAC MD $35 CIB Link -L'Abbaye des Morts $45 CIB Link -Little Medusa $55 CIB Link -Mega Casanova $29 CIB Link -Mega Marble World $35 CIB Link -Mega Marble World 2 $38 CIB Link -Mega Quadro Pong $44.75 CIB Link -MegaXmas ’89 $30 C Link -Metal Blast 2277 $32 CIB Link -Misplaced $50 CIB Link -Old Towers $50 CIB Link -Papi Commando: Second Blood €45 CIB Link -Racer $29 CIB Link -Romeow & Julicat $50 CIB Link -Smiley & Smiley $29 CIB Link -Space Flies Attack $38 CIB Link -Super Heavy Duty $35 CIB Link -Tanzer $50 CIB Link -Tanglewood $50 CIB Link -Xeno Crisis £55 CIB Link -Xump 2 €24.37 CIB Link & Link -Yazzie $50 CIB Link Currently Available Genesis/Mega Drive Music Carts: -genMDM $80 C Link -Mikeyeldey: the album C$18 CIB Link -Remute: Technoptimistic €33 Link -YM2017 $65 CIB Link -YM2020 $75 CIB Link Currently Available Game Gear Releases: -Hamburgers En Route to Switzerland $39 C Link -Saeko-sensei’s Sex Appeal Blackjack ¥7,800 CIB Link Currently Available TurboGrafx 16 Releases (HuCARD only): -Atlantean $68 CIB Link Part II: Defunct Homebrew or Sorry But Your Homebrew is in Another Castle No Longer Available NES/Famicom Releases: -1007 Bolts/Hammers/Gifts -8bit Music Power (NES & Famicom) -8bit Music Power Final (NES & Famicom) -8-bit XMAS 2008 -8-bit XMAS 2009 -8-bit XMAS 2010 -8-bit XMAS 2011 -8-bit XMAS 2012 -8-bit XMAS 2013 -8-bit XMAS 2014 -8-bit XMAS 2015 -8-bit XMAS 2016 -8-bit XMAS 2020 -Action 53, Volume 1: Function 16 Volume One "Streemerz Bundle" -Anguna: Scourge of the Goblin King -Astro Ninja Man (FC) -Basic Championship Wrestling -Beat ‘Em -Beyond the Pins (The Assembly Line Game Jam 2021) -Blade Buster -Blow ‘Em Out -Bomb Sweeper -Box Boy -Brilliant Pebbles -Bust A Nut: Flight of the Harbinger -Candelabra: Estoscerro -Commie Killer -Commie Killer featuring Jeffrey Wittenhagen -Console Killer -Convention Quest -Cornball Cocksuckers -CORGS Simulator -Cowlitz Gamers Adventure -Cowlitz Gamers Second Adventure -Cross-Strait Independence -CTWC 2018: The Archives -D+Pad Hero -D+Pad Hero 2 -Dead Tomb -Dragon Boat (FC) -Dragon Feet -Dragon Leap -E.T. -Enigmacore -F-Θ -Final Fantasy VII -Flappy Bird -Frankengraphics Concept Cart -Freecell LE -From Below -Galf -Garage Cart -Gemventure -Germ Squashers -Glider -Gold Guardian Gun Girl (FC) -The Grind -Gruniożerca 2 -Gruniożerca 3 -HACK*MATCH -Halloween Scare Cart 2015 -Halloween Scare Cart 2016 -Halloween Scare Cart 2017 -Halloween Scare Cart 2018 -Hangman -Haradius Zero (NES) -Hungry Ghost Night (Gasse version) (FC) -Hungry Ghost Night (Wang version) (FC) -Ilevan (FC) -The Incident -Jay & Silent Bob: Mall Brawl -Juhannusolumppialaiset 2017 -Juhannussauna 2016 -Kevin Power in Concert Carnage -Kevin Power in Too Many Games -KHAN Games 4-in-1 Retro Gamepak -Kira Kira Star Night DX (NES & Famicom) -K.Y.F.F. -LAN Master -Larry and the Long Look for a Luscious Lover -Larry and the Long Look for a Luscious Lover: Engagement Edition -Lawn Mower -Legends of Owlia -Mad Wizard -The Magnilo Case -Midwest Gaming Classic 2011 -Miles Con 2016 -Mr. Splash -NA Halloween 2009 -NAGE Hunt -Neotoxin -NEScape -Ninja Slapper -Nomolos: Storming the Catsle -NyanCat -Ooze Redux -Peace Love Trippy Club (FC) -Perfect Pair -Perkele -Ploid -Poronkusema -Random Insult Generator -RC 2 Rally (FC) Link -Rekt -Retro Homebrew Championships 2015 -RetroVision -Rick Roll'd -Rise of Amondus -Rock, Paper, Scissors -RSM Cart 2011 -RSM Cart 2012 -Scramble -Shera & The 40 Thieves -Sitten Kitten -Slappin' Bitches -Sly Dog Studios 3-in-1 2P Pak -Sneak ‘n Peek -Space Foxes -Spook-o'-tron -Star Keeper -Star Versus -Sudoku 2007 -Super Bat Puncher Demo (NES) -Super Russian Roulette -T*Gun -Tailgate Party -Tapeworm Disco Party -Tic Tac XO -Tortoises -Tower Defense 1990 -The Tower of Turmoil -Turtle Rescue: Unhatched DX -Turtle Rescue: Unwrapped -Uchūsen -Ultimate Frogger Champion -Utakata Synopsis (FC) -Vector Run -Vegetablets Go (NES & FC) -VGBS Gaming Podcast Season 1 -Zooming Secretary No Longer Available NES/Famicom Music Carts: -_node: d3ad_form4t -8Bit Music Power -Alex Mauer: Color Caves -Alex Mauer: Vegavox -Alex Mauer: Vegavox II -Alwa's Awakening Soundtrack -Anamanaguchi: Dawn Metropolis -Anamanaguchi: Endless Fantasy -Anamanaguchi: Power Supply -animal style: Teletime -BEATBOX -Chip Maestro (for making music!) -Holly Jolly NES Mix -Goofy Foot: Power Chiptunes -Journey -King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: Polygondwanaland -King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: Polygondwanaland 2nd Release -Kreese: PAL Project -Midlines -MOON8 -Moonfall: A Legend of Zelda Compilation -NESK-1 -NTRQ -Puzzle Boys: Duck Tails -RTC: Years Behind -Super Synth Drums Cart -Zao: Reformat/Reboot -Zi: Four No Longer Available SNES/Super Famicom Releases: -16-bit XMAS 2011 -16-bit XMAS 2012 -Frog Feast -Kaizou Choujin Shubibinman Zero No Longer Available Game Boy Releases: -Chunkout -Deadeus -Dragon Mountain Double Feature -Flashin' -IndestructoTank! -Rope & Bombs -Super Connard -Super Jetpack DX -The Warp Coin Catastrophe -Windows 93 Adventure No Longer Available Game Boy Music Carts: -King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Flying Microtonal Banana (Gizzmoix) -King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: I’m In Your Mind Fuzz (Gizzmoix) -The Mist Toggles: Boneless -Nonfinite: Plus/Minus -Tronimal: Hello_World! No Longer Available GBA Releases: -Anguna: Warriors of Virtue No Longer Available GBA Music Carts: -Be Careful: Anemoia Garden -Be Careful: Dissipated Skies -Be Careful: Liminal Cove -Doctor Popular: Destroy All Presets -Don Aaron: FREEDOM? -Gizzmoix: ALEX GBA (Sapphire & Ruby editions) -H A R U S P E X: Tome of the Forbidden Land -Lazuli_yellow: The Hidden Temple of Wuhu Island -Lazuli_yellow: Videopolis -Lin Lin and the Symphony of Tears: Release I -MAGICK FLAVOUR STATION: N64 Love Songs -mingkurray: Hidden EP -mingkurray: holographic -Monster Teeth: Slippery Slope -NMBUS: Ciel Rouge -NMBUS x Be Careful: Linear EP -OasisLtd.: Mixtape #1 -Startide Realms: ASVMR -TUPPERWAVE: To you baby, with love -Whitewoods: Spaceship Earth No Longer Available Sega Master System Releases: -Sydney Hunter & The Sacred Tribe No Longer Available Genesis/Mega Drive Releases: -16Bit Rhythm Land -30 Years of Nintendon't -ASCII Wars -Barbarian -Beach Volley -Bomb on Basic City -Code Eliminator -Diamond Thieves -Double Symbol -FX Unit Yuki -Game Panic II -Germ Squashers -Griel’s Quest -Hangman SG -Humiliation Nation -Invasion -IK+ Deluxe -Ivanhoe -Megagames Almanac -Mega Cheril Perils -Miniplanets -Papi Commando -Pier Solar and the Great Architects -Return to Genesis -Sacred Line -Star J -Suprakillminds -T*Gun II -Uwol Quest for Money -War in the Machine -Zooming Secretary No Longer Available Genesis/Mega Drive Music Carts: -Eternalist: A Telefuture Compilation -Freezedream: Today -Hyperdub: Konsolation (bundled with Analogue Mega Sg) -Tanglewood Soundtrack -TH4 D34D: Future 2612
  5. 2022 Sale Thread -E-mail jasonrippard@yahoo.com for questions -Buyer pays shipping (unless otherwise stated) -Ships to North America Only -Prices made based on condition -Parting out items considered but not guaranteed. -PM for questions/details/bundling -If there is a bold line through it... it is sold. -All NES games have dust covers. If it has a box, it has a box protector. -Virginia has joined a list of other states raising the limit to $600 per year til a 1099 tax form is sent. Sorry for the inconvenience. Alternative payment forms are fine if this is an issue. -OVER 150 TRANSACTIONS ON NintendoAge (BUY WITH CONFIDENCE) NES 720° $15 10 Yard Fight $5 3D World Runner $15 8 Eyes $15 Adventure Island (CI) $25 Air Fortress (CI) $15 Alpha Mission $10 Bandai Golf (CIB) $22 Baseball Stars II (Box only) $18 Battle Chess $10 Blades of Steel $12 Blaster Master (CI) $20 Breakthru $10 Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout (CB faded) $18 Bump n’ Jump $8 Caesars Palace (Box only) $10 Casino Kid $10 Castle of Dragon (Box Only) $20 Championship Bowling (CI) $8 Cobra Command $12 Cobra Triangle $8 Codename: Viper $15 Crystal Mines (blue) (CB) $70 Dance Aerobics $8 Dash Galaxy (faded box) (CB) $25 Demon Sword $10 Destination Earthstar $8 Faxanadu (CI) $20 Festers Quest (CI) $15 Gauntlet $10 Gauntlet II $10 Ghosts n’ Goblins $20 Golf $8 Goonies II (CI) $25 Gotcha! (CI) $10 Gyromite (w/ famicom convertor) (CI) $30 Hogans Alley $10 Hoops (CI) $10 Hunt For Red October $8 Hydlide $8 Ikari Warriors $12 Indiana Jones Temple of Doom $15 Infiltrator $8 Jeopardy (CB) $12 Jeopardy 25th Anniversary $6 Johan Elway’s Quarterback (CI) $8 Karate Champ (CI) $10 Kings Knight (CI) $15 Kings of the Beach $8 Load Runner $10 Mad Max $12 Millipede $10 Milons Secret Castle (CI) $15 Muppet Adventure (cart stains) $10 NES Open Golf $7 Orb 3-D (CI) $15 Othello $5 Pin Bot (CI) $8 Pinball (CI) $8 Play Action Football (CIB) $15 RBI Baseball $10 Robowarrior $10 Rush n’ Attack $10 Side Pocket $8 Silent Service (CI) $8 Soccer $7 Solar Jetman $10 Solstice $10 Star Voyager $8 Stealth ATF $8 Super Talking Jeopardy (Box Only) $12 Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt/World Class Track Meet (CB custom box) $30 Super Pitfall (CI) $15 Super Spkie V’ball $8 Super Spike V’ball/World Cup Soccer (CB custom box) $30 Super Team Games $8 Tecmo Bowl $10 Tecmo World Wrestling (CI) $15 Terminator 2 $9 Tetris 2 (CI) $15 Tiger-Heli (CI) $10 Top Gun Second Mission (CI) $10 Top Player Tennis $12 Total Recall (CI) $15 Track & Field $6 Vegas Dream (CIB) $20 Wheel of Fortune (CI) $8 Wheel of Fortune Family Edition $6 Winter Games $8 World Class Track Meet (CB custom box) $25 Wrath of the Black Manta $12 Manuals -Bards Tale -Caveman Games -Commando -Dino Riki -Iron Tank -Mach Rider -Paperboy -Tag Team Wrestling -Volleyball Aftermarket/Homebrew -Chuck Yeager’s Fighter Combat (w/ flight pin) (#63 / 150) $100 -Swords and Runes (gold cart/ numbered edition shows on # start screen-) $85 -Happily Ever After $90 -Superman (sealed) (#18 /30) $80
  6. A Homebrew Draws Near! A blog series by @Scrobins Episode 22: Fire and Rescue Introduction: Among the many homebrewers I have been privileged to interview, several were also academics: professors who teach game design and development by day, and by night put into practice those same lessons into their own passion projects. Their expertise is expressed through their style, and sometimes traces of the teacher are apparent in their games, either highlighting the lessons they value most or serving as a piece of learning material in itself. Homebrewers often are eager to draw connections to the games that influenced them and to which they wish to pay homage, but there is something different we can eagerly expect when a brewer teases they hope for their full panoply of games to serve as a history lesson, highlighting the idiosyncrasies of their favorite games' features, reflecting the evolution of the NES’ offerings with each new game of their own. For this entry, I’m covering Fire and Rescue, a Black Box-style arcade game for the NES, developed by Skyboy Games. As of the time of this writing, the game is complete and available for purchase as a rom here, and a full, physical CIB is available here. Development Team: Skyboy Games (Robbie Dieterich): programming & music Better call 911, because this game is on FIRE Game Evolution: Fire and Rescue first teased its existence as early as June 6, 2021, when Robbie tweeted a brief clip of gameplay. Skyboy Games began work on the game in the wake of their previous game’s success: Orphea placed 2nd in Lost Cartridge Jam 2020. Screenshot from Orphea From that moment onward, Skyboy Games unleashed a veritable river of updates highlighting their progress, from the creation of the first test cartridge on September 16, 2021 (and a sample box 4 days later) to the confirmation of an eventual physical release on October 12, 2021. Before the year was out, Skyboy announced that pre-orders for the game were open on December 6, 2021 (closing 10 days later), with an option to pick up your own copy in person at Super MAGFest. Confirmation that the first copies were en route to players went out on December 17, 2021. Gameplay Overview: Fire and Rescue describes itself as an arcade-style game in the spirit of the NES’ early Black Box releases. You play as the brave firefighter trusted with saving your city and the innocent civilians who inhabit it from the host of fires ravaging your town. Using your water tank, you can go into each building and extinguish the fires within. Eventually your tank will run low, so you’ll need to hurry outside to refill it at the nearby hydrant. It’s a careful exercise in resource management, because fires can grow and spread over time, even shooting unextinguishable fireballs. And of course you must consider your own safety because you only have 2 hit points. In a fun nod to Ghosts ‘n Goblins, after the first hit you lose your helmet, and the second hit will kill you. In addition to fighting fires, you will need to save anyone trapped in the burning buildings by touching them and carrying them out one at a time to the waiting ambulance’s rescue point. Grateful citizens will leave power ups that can automatically refill your water tank or restore your helmet (and thus your health). Screenshot from Fire and Rescue The game’s controls are simple. Use the d-pad to move left and right, as well as up and down ladders. You can jump using the A button and spray water with the B button (you can spray water downwards by jumping and then pressing down and B while in midair). Select toggles options at the title menu, and Start chooses options at the title menu and pauses during gameplay. Writer’s Review: Fire and Rescue is a captivating arcade game that serves as a refreshing reminder of the kind of simple fun Nintendo delivered to pull the video game industry back from the 1983 crash. While we may also ooh and ahh over the latest development to push the hardware to its limits, Fire and Rescue exemplifies how the more recent games that populate our list of all-time favorites stand tall because they stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before. Fire and Rescue would fit in perfectly among the Black Box originals it emulates, but for all its stripped-down simplicity, it’s a stunning gem. Screenshot from NES Black Box classic Balloon Fight Gameplay includes some fun little details that add nuance. For instance, the entrance to each stage’s house includes a small set of stairs that you have to jump on in order to enter the house, otherwise you’re just walking in front of the building, and you cannot just jump up into the ground floor from standing outside in front of it. In addition to the layouts of each house and the distribution of the fires and civilians within, the placement of the ambulance and the hydrant relative to the entrance adds a dash of difficulty that will mess with your intuition. In similar touches that will challenge your assumptions and toy with speedrunners, you can jump off ladders while climbing them, but you cannot jump onto a ladder and start climbing in the middle of it to save time. This is cleverly balanced with strategic use of the dropped powerups to limit the number of times you need to go outside to refill your water tank. I had a laugh when I discovered you could jump out a window or off a balcony to take a shortcut to the street, and the fall didn’t take a toll on your health. This is all to say that Fire and Rescue has easy to learn basics, but interesting and helpful nuggets that pepper your experience, which you can only learn by getting your hands dirty…or reading my blog. The game’s graphics take a less is more approach, but still giving players everything they need. As the cute 8-bit firefighter you can see the entire layout of each house, identifying the animated fires and the people trapped among them. Perhaps like a real firefighter, all you see are the elements that matter: the people, the fire, the paths to get to either. Anything else is superfluous. Robbie plays with the negative space, incorporating furniture and appliances into the background to add a sense of art to the otherwise functional design. Meanwhile Fire and Rescue’s music lays a soft but intense tune over gameplay. Rather than the monotonous tones of some early Black Box outings, Fire and Rescue’s chiptune conveys mood: one of focus, as if the firefighter was in the zone and concentrating on getting through another day at the office, saving lives and literally putting out fires. Interviews: Unlike Billy Joel, Skyboy acknowledges they started this fire. So I reached out to interview them with all the burning questions that I love to ash all my subjects. Ok I’ll stop now. Robbie Dieterich @skyboygames -Before we dive into Fire and Rescue, I would love to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to become a game programmer? What is the origin story of Skyboy Games? Okay, I'll try to give you the short version of my background (if such a thing even exists.) First things first, my name is Robbie Dieterich and I'm the sole member of Skyboy Games and also an Assistant Professor of Game Design at George Mason University (GMU) in Virginia. Before coming to GMU, I was a game programmer in Tokyo where I had been working for roughly a decade working on games like Elite Beat Agents, Lips, and the Black Eyed Peas Experience. Before Tokyo, I lived and worked in Virginia (where I also went to college.) If you're wondering how exactly a college kid from VA ended up working in a Japanese game development company in Tokyo for a decade, well that's a whole other story (that involves more than a few late nights of drinking.) My Black Eyed Peas Experience: “Where is the love?” “Where is your shirt?” As far as inspiration to become a game programmer goes, you can thank a couple of magazines for that. One was early in Nintendo Power, I think in the first or second year where they had a game design contest. I didn't enter, but I remember seeing the winning entry and being enraptured with the idea of making my own games. I was probably around 8 or 9 at the time. The second inspiring magazine article came much later in an issue of Next Generation mag around '96 or so. The article listed jobs in the industry, and I fell in love with the idea of working in games. Ironically enough, I assumed I would be best suited to be a producer because I didn't think I was smart enough to be a programmer. Anyway, while I was inspired to work in games, I didn't think it could ever really happen. So, I put the thought away in the pipe dream section and ended up getting a degree in Computer Science. I didn't like CS that much per se, but I had picked up a knack for programming by doing all sorts of personal projects (usually making broken little games.) So, maybe we will get into the Tokyo connection here. After graduating college, I spent a year on the JET program teaching English in Japan. Living in Japan had been a goal of mine for a while (my mother is from Okinawa), and I studied Japanese all through college with that goal in mind. After the year in JET, I came back to the States and worked as a programmer at a government contractor. Working at the government contractor was, honestly, pretty dull. It was so dull that I ended up quitting that job to help some friends work on an arcade rhythm game. It was an... interesting time. It didn't end well however since Konami got wind of what we were up to and... applied some indirect pressure on our funding source. In a bit of a funk, I went to stay with a friend in Japan for a while. It was there that I had a chance to attend an industry party thanks to another friend I had become drinking buddies with while I was on the JET program. It was at that party that I met the guy who would become my boss for the next 10 years. I introduced myself as a freelance, i.e. unemployed, programmer, he suggested an interview and things went from there. Skyboy Games is a side business I started towards the end of my time in Japan, mainly as a vehicle for indie games that I was making. The Skyboy in Skyboy is my son. -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? This is a tricky question since I'm not super conscious of strong direct influences. I do pick up influences, of course, but I think of them being more diffuse in my work and way of thought. For example, Keiichi Yano, who I worked for the most in Tokyo, is certainly an influence on how I design games. It's not, however, because I try to ape the way he approaches design, but the way he approaches making games have certainly colored the way I approach making games. Keiichi Yano As far work I'm watching closely now, I watch the work of people I've worked with before. In a way, I tend to watch projects when I have a direct personal or professional connection with the developer in question. For example, Adam from Second Dimension was a great source for PCBs and cart shells, so I've been watching Affinity Sorrow like a hawk. I grew fond of some of the developers at MIVS, so I watch their projects (like Crescendo, Unbeatable, and Noisz). Vi Grey and Justin Orenich were super fun to talk with (and Justin helped A LOT with getting me started on physical cart production) so I'm watching what they're up to next. What can I say, I'm a softy who watches other projects for soft, personal reasons. -You are also an assistant professor at George Mason University, where you teach game design. Do you feel your academic work informs your approach to game design, or perhaps your video game work informs your teaching? Yes, both ways! Most of my work in academia is teaching students how to create games which forces me to constantly organize and vocalize my understanding of how best to make games. This encourages me to apply a more rigorous process to problems I might otherwise be tempted to solve by sheer intuition. In the other direction, working on games provides concrete object lessons I can use to illustrate ideas in class. NES games are great for this since they have such tight scope. One of the benefits of working at the art school part of the university is that creating games is my art and the university encourages faculty to practice their art. -You mention in your newsletter that you spent about a decade in Tokyo programming games for a wide variety of platforms, such as the Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, iOS, and Android. Did you originally go to Tokyo for that purpose? What kind of games did you work on? What lessons have you carried from those experiences to your development work now? The biggest titles I worked on were Elite Beat Agents (Nintendo DS), Lips (Xbox 360), and the Black Eyed Peas Experience (Xbox 360 + Kinect). I also did a bunch of mobile games which I'm pretty sure are now all defunct. Under the Gloria Estefan Act, we are the rhythm and we are here to get you I think I've internalized a lot of what I learned developing games there. To unpack it a bit, I think we placed a high premium on subtle polish in what often seemed like minute areas of games. For example, the timing fraction of a second pause breath you might put between a fade-out and a fade-in. Even though I work on games mostly by myself nowadays, I find that I sometimes imagine myself in the roles of various past co-workers depending on what I'm doing. When I'm thinking about fine-tuning variables I imagine I'm working with some of the planners I've worked with (Fuji-san, Nakao-san). When I'm tuning pixel art, I'm getting imaginary feedback from former artist co-workers (Saito-san, Nakai-san, Umeji-san). When I playtest, I'm taking on the almost sadistic (to the game, not people) nature of some of the best QA managers (Hayashi-san and, the living TCR manual, Sawada-san) I've worked with. When I fix a thorny bug, I still imagine how I might explain it to my programming lead, Okada-san, back in the day. Gosh, when I say it that way, I sound like a lonely old hermit. I have in-person friends too! I swear! -How would you describe your design aesthetic, what to you are the hallmarks of a game made by you? My rule for when something looks good comes down to intentionality. Does something look the way it does on purpose? When something is lo-fi, the difference to me is whether I'm convinced that any given sound or graphic actually sounds/looks how the author intended it to. Going forward, since I'm likely to be on a hands-on tour through the technological history of NES games, my aim is to produce games that feel authentically like games of the era I'm seeking to emulate, in terms of tech, design, look and feel. -What tools do you use to code and compose for your games? Visual studio and c65 for code. I code mostly in C and roll a little bit of assembly when I need an extra performance boost. Graphics tend to be done in GIMP and then transferred into tools like YYCHR so I can arrange them in CHR memory. I compose tunes in FamiTracker. Although, "compose" isn't really the right word for it. If you listen closely to the music in FIRE AND RESCUE, you may be able to recognize it as a transposition of portions of a Sousa march. I knew beats could be fire but this is ridiculous! -With your background in more modern platforms, what inspired you to develop a game for the NES? My first game system was a NES, so I've always had a distinct love for the system. On a more programmery side, I used to read old game programming books that were centered around mode 13h PC programming. I never got to do much of that myself since when I started doing games more seriously DirectX and friends were already a thing. So, doing low-level, "dirty" coding was something I always wanted to do myself. I wanna code DIRRTY -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in developing Fire and Rescue? This may sound like a humble brag, but the development of FIRE AND RESCUE went pretty smoothly. To be fair, I've been around the block a fair bit with a lot of projects, so I had a pretty decent sense of the scope I wanted to aim for, and I tried to front-load the most troublesome parts of development so any ugly surprises could hit me early. For example, my original concept for the game had the player picking up and dropping their water tank and stretching a limited length hose to put out fires. Convincingly rendering the hose within the limits of NES sprite rendering (even with some BG tile trickery) proved more costly and bug-prone than I wanted, so I pivoted away from that feature during the prototyping phase of the game. I think this was a lucky choice since picking up and dropping the tank was also the drag (though the idea of having P2 move the tank while P1 sprayed could have been kind of fun.) Not that the end of the project was necessarily smooth sailing. Managing code size is a challenge and figuring out what code used up more bytes versus other code was not always intuitive. Measuring the effect of changes was super important. Optimization for performance was fun though. On modern platforms, micro-optimizations of code are rarely where you get significant wins for improving performance. On old platforms, however, those micro-optimizations can be huge. I finally got to use some of the techniques I learned from old game programming tomes and have them make a useful difference. -I always ask my interviewees whether there is a reflection of themselves in the game’s protagonist. Do you identify with the firefighter character in some way? I don't see myself in the characters per se, but there is some of me in them. Namely, the sprites for the firefighters are based on the sprites from Balloon Fight because BF was one of the two games I first got with my NES. FIRE AND RESCUE is kind of an homage to my feelings playing Balloon Fight for the first time (and opening the box for the first time, too). -Although unnamed in the game and manual, do they have a name in your head canon? They do! In my head canon, FIRE AND RESCUE would have been developed in Japan, so I imagined the characters having names written next to them somewhere in paper design materials. Originally, the names would be Ken and Satoshi (for P1 and P2, respectively) but I imagine the American localization team changed "Satoshi" to "Jay" to be more relatable in the States. Of course, the names never got used because marketing decided they weren't needed. I write fanfiction in my head for the games I make and have imaginary co-workers. I swear, I'm okay! No no, a different Jay (I hope) -There has been a lot of support and enthusiasm for Fire and Rescue, with people enjoying the game at MAGFest earlier this year. How does it feel to see so many people excited for your game? It rocks soooo much. I especially love how many people seem to get what I was going for with this game. -What aspects of Fire and Rescue are you most proud of? The aspect I'm most proud of is what I'm talking about when I talk about people "getting the game". My primary goal was to make FIRE AND RESCUE feel authentically like a Black Box NES game that was part of its original line-up. Every time someone said that the copyright message was the only thing that gave it away as a modern creation or when someone said they didn't know why, but the game just felt right for the era, I was on Cloud-9. -Your third newsletter highlights just how detail-oriented your game design is. You mention intentionally excluding “quality of life” features found in more contemporary games such as using Select and Start buttons to navigate the menu on the title screen (in line with games of the era) rather than also allow option selection via the D-pad and A button. Were these touches something you knew about from your game design or academic backgrounds, or was this the result of research prior to developing Fire and Rescue? A lot of that was instinct and memories from the game's I grew up playing. I wish I could say I had researched this carefully, but in reality, these were decisions largely based on my intuition, where adding certain things didn't feel right, didn't feel authentic to the era. -We had a chance to meet and chat in person at MAGFest this year as well! You told me something really interesting: that in addition to having much of Fire and Rescue’s design pay homage to the older black box releases, that you plan having future releases follow a design pattern that traces the history of the NES’ lifespan. Where did this idea come from, and which patterns should we be on the lookout for? That was an awesome chat, by the way! I loved talking with the "good Sean Robinson"! At the moment, I think what you'll likely see from me is me essentially unpacking my game history by making games that speak (to me at least) of the games I remember from my childhood. I didn't get to play all the NES games, but I did play quite a few, so we'll likely see me tracing through a history of NES games with a bias to games I have strong memories of. So, some examples of how that bias might play out in future projects might be having more Hogan's Alley influences than Duck Hunt or more Metroid than Kid Icarus because the former games in those two examples are one's I have more personal memories about. -Your newsletter also teases an upcoming project that will be Zapper-compatible. Given your interest in tracing the history of the NES that we discuss in an earlier question, are there other technologies you hope to incorporate at some point, whether that’s other accessories such as the PowerPad or U-Force or cartridge developments such as using a battery save feature? Oh yes, indeed. As I mentioned before, my project plan is essentially a playable homage to my personal nostalgia. Some initial research into that Zapper project... My tech choices will likely be driven by the tech requirement of the games I want to pay homage to. So, for example, I have a Metroid-ey game I want to make and it would likely be an MMC1 project with no save battery because... nostalgia (and also the chance of adding a 'Justin Bailey'-esque easter egg.) Were I doing something Zelda-inspired, I'd probably have non-password saving. (If I were to do something as an homage to the first Dragon Quest/Warrior I'd be torn on the battery save issue since the Japanese version actually used a password system!) -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon, NES or otherwise? Any dream projects? Collaborations? Yes! So, next project I'm working on, Saru Kani Panic, is a collaboration with some people I've worked with before. This game is not part of the Skyboy Games brand, so its aesthetics don't hew to my NES history idea we have running. Saru Kani Panic will be running alongside with the Zapper game I hinted at in the newsletter. Later on, I want to start climbing up the NES memory mapper tech tree with a Metriod-ey or Zelda-ey game. I actually have some artist friends I'm hoping to woo for concept art for this one. (And I have a friend I would LOVE to have cosplay as a character from a game I make.) Of course, like many nerds, I do have an RPG burning a hole in my brain, waiting to come out. I might try doing a version of that someday specced to NES so the NES tech constraints can keep my project in scope. Screenshot from Saru Kani Panic in development with Work3 Studio -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? Well, as you may guess from my earlier answer, I'm getting pretty excited for Affinty Sorrow. I have some waiting to go however. -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? You are awesome! I wasn't sure what to expect when I jumped into the homebrew community, but everyone I've met has been welcoming and wonderful. Conclusion: Thanks for tuning in to this latest episode of the series that showcases the latest and greatest homebrew games that deserve a place on your shelf. What are your thoughts on Fire and Rescue, and Skyboy Games? What homebrews are you eagerly looking forward to? Perhaps you’ll see it here soon when…A Homebrew Draws Near! Command?
  7. Episode 5 will discuss Space Raft for the NES. Get the game here: https://raftronaut.itch.io/space-raft-nes Grab a CIB copy or play the game for free in your browser here: https://dustymedical.com/space-raft-nes/ For more discussion, join our Discord server: https://discord.gg/MsaGY87kex This episode is expected to post in late April, 2022.
  8. Hello! Opening this thread as an information dump for Project Sword, an NES action platformer currently in development in collaboration with Bite the Chili (Gauauu)and myself. Hoping to get some conversation going about the game, the features we are working on, and the type of enthusiasm that may be out there as we work to build towards our early demo of the game. As well, hoping to document some of the development processes of the game here when possible. Gauauu had contacted me to see if I had an interest in providing graphic assets for a mid-size NES game that he could plug away at between releasing the fantastic Anguna and finishing the hotly anticipated sci-fi exploration game Halcyon. The latter being of special significance to my early interest in homebrew, I jumped at the chance. Gauauu proposed an action platformer inspired by the wall jumping in Sunsoft's Batman mixed with the twitchy pacing of Ninja Gaiden. Set in a fantasy setting inspired by the Princess Bride. All of this sounded like something I would be excited to play myself, so I agreed to help! We've accomplished a number of things already, Gauauu has a wonderful 4-way scrolling engine set up to handle the larger nametables needed for batman-like wall jumping stages, as well as created some tight and intuitive wall jumping controls. Additionally, we have bank switching player sprites, DPCM percussion, some impressive palette fades, and some interesting powerups. The engine is really smooth, which is about all I am qualified to say about it since Gauauu is the programmer and I am exclusively working on assets, hopefully he can share more about the programming in the project. We've got some test levels set up and some initial prototypes to test game mechanics. I also went ahead and composed about 4-5 songs to get us started building the prototype. I have some concept music posted here including our DPCM samples for the proposed Titlescreen/Attract sequence: My first task on the project was developing our player character: I started to draw a princess via princess bride but got bored with that and she quickly became a selectable playable character as well: Portraits contributed by my friend and musical collaborator Steve D'eau. These are WIP I started breaking down the tilesets to our source inspiration (batman, and Ninja Gaiden) as well as adding influence from games set in fantasy settings like Simons Quest, shadow of the ninja, and Megaman 6 (knightman). *fairytale motif inspired by the princess bride: Iterations of the main Sorcerer villain shaping up after a little advice from Mteegfx: More portrait work by Steve D'eau: The sorcerer in his citadel: Supporting characters: The original theme of the project has spiraled out quite a bit since I started heaping in all my TV/Film fantasy influences. I've been doubling down on watching swashbuckling/fantasy/high adventure films while I am working and have been spending a lot of time with MGM's 1962 Harryhausen stop motion knock-off Jack and the giant killer, Erol Flynn's 1938 Robin Hood film, Max Fleischer's 1939 Gulliver's Travels cartoon, Harryhausen's 1963 Argonauts, and 1973's Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and Ralph Bakshi's 1983 Fire and Ice. Of course, accompanied by the aforementioned Princess Bride. As a side note in this thread, if there are any swashbuckling/fantasy/adventure films that should be included here with this, I would love to hear about them and discuss them here. AS a personal note, I made a point to finish both Batman and Ninja Gaiden after starting this project, having the proper motivation allowed me to power through each and gave me a newfound respect for those games. Batman especially, what a wonderful game! Those visuals! That play control! That MUUUUSSSSSICCCCC!!!! (partly the inspiration for using DPCM on this project) Again, we're moving forward into our demo phase and will be looking for beta testers and feedback from the community, so if you have any questions about the project or wish to contribute feedback to either Gauauu, or myself you can do so here I am very clearly excited about Project Sword and look forward to sharing more with the community going forward. Keep an eye out for us!! Thanks for checking us out -team Sword
  9. GET THE PODCAST HERE: HBGC Extra: Retro-Inspired Indie Games Nick has a story about losing his car keys. It's long, sorry. Eventually, Nick and Conor talk about some of their favorite retro-inspired indie games. Let us know which ones we missed by yelling at us on social media or emailing homebrewgameclub@gmail.com. Our next game is Witch n' Wiz for the NES. Get it here: https://mhughson.itch.io/witch-n-wiz Games mentioned in this episode: Streets of Rage 4 Fight'n Rage River City Girls Cave Story VVVVVV Super Hexagon Celeste Bionic Commando Rearmed Undertale GG Aleste 3 (Aleste Collection) Super Meat Boy Binding of Issac Shovel Knight Hollow Knight Sega Ages (Series) Limbo Braid Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 1 & 2 Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero Shantae and the Pirate's Curse Super Hydorah
  10. Download (or play in your browser) the latest build here! (ver. 1.0) The Kraken cometh... From the deepest trenches of the ocean, the Kraken has come to lay waste to your city! The archers have slung every arrow. The burning tar has run dry. Every piece of military weaponry has been dispatch. And yet... the Kraken moves forward, climbing the towering walls of your seaside fortress. With no ammunition left, the city itself moves from a barricade, to a weapon! The stones of the walls are broken off, and hurdled down at hideous creature. And it just might be enough to slow it down till morning, when surely help will arrive... --- Hi! I created my first Homebrew NES game, FROM BELOW! It a falling block puzzle game featuring: Soft Drops Hard Drops Wall Kicks T-Spins Lock Delay 3 modes of play: Kraken Battle Mode The signature mode of FROM BELOW. Battle the Kraken by clear lines across the onslaught of attacking Kraken Tentacles. The Tentacles push more blocks onto the screen every few seconds, forcing to act quickly, and strategize on an every changing board. Classic Mode The classic block falling mechanics you know and love without any new gimmicks. Modernize for 2020, with Hard Drops, Lock Delay, and more, making this (hopefully) the best feeling puzzle game on the NES! Turn Based Kraken Battle Mode Similar to "Kraken Battle Mode", but instead of the Kraken attacking every few seconds, it advances its tentacle every time you drop a piece. Make every move count, as this move favors slow, deliberate play!
  11. Homebrew hidden gems! Maybe you overlooked these games or never knew about them, well worry no more...we have you covered. Join @neodolphino, @Scrobins, and @Deadeyeas we cover 9+ NES homebrews that deserve more attention and play time. Audio Podcast version: https://anchor.fm/deadeye-bit/episodes/HiF-011---Hidden-Gems-e1fpumq Video version:
  12. GET THE PODCAST HERE: Homebrew Game Club Episode 3: Witch n' Wiz The gang talks about Witch n' Wiz, a puzzle platformer for the NES. Nick tries in vain not to swear, Conor confesses to a terrible mistake, and Bart has a particular room in mind where he'd like to play this one. There's also a bit about Reddit movies. Finally, Nick has a cautionary tale about giving your childhood stuffed animals away to high school filmmakers. Still need to play Witch n' Wiz? Get the full game here: https://mhughson.itch.io/witch-n-wiz Or play it for free on Piepacker: https://piepacker.com/ Music break: "Gravity" by Tuï: https://twitter.com/Tui2A03 The next game club pick is NEScape! For the NES. Check our social media for the livestream date, and get the game here: https://khangames.itch.io/nescape Mawthorne on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crazygrouptrio/mawthorne-nes-game/ Skeller Boy on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/skelerboy/skeler-boy-part-ii-for-game-boy-cartridge-and-pc The Great Gatsby for NES: https://greatgatsbygame.com/ Needle in a Timestack Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VfPClAsIpg As always, find links to our social media, merch shop and more at homebrewgameclub.com.
  13. Hey everyone, I've launched my blog series A Homebrew Draws Near! It covers new homebrew games coming into existence, discussing their development, gameplay, and most importantly share fun stories from the development team! In addition to its place in the blog section of VGS, this thread will share links to each entry as it’s made and provide announcements for newer posts. I hope you enjoy it! Episode 1: Project Blue Episode 2: KUBO 3 Episode 3: Anguna Zero Episode 4: Trophy Episode 5: Rollie Episode 6: Jay & Silent Bob: Mall Brawl Episode 7: Quest Arrest Episode 8: The Assembly Line Episode 9: 8-Bit Xmas 2020 Episode 10: Space Raft Episode 11: From Below Episode 12: Yeah Yeah Beebiss II Episode 13: What Remains Episode 14: Doodle World Episode 15: The Curse of Illmoore Bay Episode 16: Eyra-The Crow Maiden Episode 17: Roniu's Tale Episode 18: Chumlee's Adventure: The Quest for Pinky Episode 19: Montezuma's Revenge Episode 20: Demons of Asteborg Episode 21: Dungeons & DoomKnights Episode 22: Fire and Rescue
  14. Did you notice that all Nintendo systems coming after the N64 have their own version of Super Smash Bros? It is a shame that this (wonderful) experience is not ported to earlier systems! Super Tilt Bro. for NES is my humble attempt at filling this void. It adapts this fun and nervous gameplay to the NES and its eight buttons controller. You can freely download the ROM, play in a browser or hack the source. It now has an ONLINE mode! Short story: Wi-Fi chipset in the cart. Long story: here. Wishlist the physical release. To find an online opponent, join the discord. Here is the trailer: In this topic there will be different kinds of updates: Technical highlights: small articles about technical challenges of developing Super Tilt Bro. and how they are solved. Patch notes: when the game receives an update, details are available right here. News: Less often, I may announce something big (like a new physical edition)
  15. So I backed this homebrew project at the top tier, of which there were only 5 spots available: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/langel/guntner It's a new shmup for the NES, and the tier I backed it at allows me to help design some elements of the game; per the description: Help Design an Element of GunTneR!! Help steer development! Same as above (cart/stickers/sleeve) and collaborate with me on an enemy, a boss, or power up! You might be thinking "add the Sage!" and I totally went there in my head, too. But I don't think it's honestly a thematic fit, and there are plenty of other places where the Sage could totally fit in the future, so shelve that one for now. That's where you come in though - I'd love to get some ideas spit-balled on here to help me come up with something to propose. My initial idea was to suggest a powerup which would be a second "support" ship like your typical "Addition" that you get in some shimps, in the likeness of a literal glove, which provides more firepower for your ship. Another idea was a Glove Shield - Basically a powerup which can block some amount of shots before dissipating, it'd be again a literal glove which floats in front of your ship and blocks shots. Just some starter ideas, with a clear starting point of "My username is Gloves, lol". Maybe we can get more creative than that. Lemme know your thoughts/ideas!
  16. GET THE PODCAST HERE: Homebrew Game Club Episode 2: Deadeus The Game Club takes on handheld homebrew horror with Deadeus for the Game Boy, a great Halloween title we're talking about in January for some reason. Warning: Spoilers abound. The guys wrap up with a discussion of their favorite non-homebrew games of 2021. Got a different take? Share your experience with us at homebrewgameclub (at) gmail.com. Play Deadeus here if you haven't already: https://izma.itch.io/deadeus Break music: Day 2 Overworld Theme by Stoo Busby: https://stoobusby.bandcamp.com/track/urizen-falls-day-two-overworld-2 Bart Elfrink's short film Innards: https://vimeo.com/101396406 The next game club pick is Witch n' Wiz for the NES. Get it here: https://mhughson.itch.io/witch-n-wiz Find social media links and more at http://www.homebrewgameclub.com
  17. A Homebrew Draws Near! A blog series by @Scrobins Episode 21: Dungeons & DoomKnights Introduction: In the gaming world, where evolution and innovation is constant, the excitement of new firsts never wanes. Whether it’s the arrival of a new console, new tools & technology, or a new game showing off the possibilities of the previous two, being the first carries the power to excite imaginations over how this new thing heralds something we should take notice of, and get ready for what will surely follow. I’ve covered NESmaker games before, sharing the multitude of stories that enthusiastically draw new people into the homebrew community, but I have not yet had the pleasure to discuss the first game using the tool to launch a Kickstarter campaign (after Mystic Origins/Mystic Searches, which I hope to cover as well someday) and thus fire the imaginations of future homebrewers. For this entry, I’m covering Dungeons & DoomKnights, a Zeldavania adventure game for the NES, and developed by Artix Entertainment, set in their Adventure Quest universe. As of the time of this writing, development of the game is complete and initial backer rewards are on the way! But if you don’t have a copy and want one, you can purchase the rom, regular edition CIB, or limited-edition CIB here. Development Team: Artix (Adam Bohn): game design & story @dale_coop: programming Clarion: pixel art & animation Pixel Pete: background art FJ: pixel art Jongaar & Broomtool: music & sound effects Rolith: level design & experimental ports Diozz & Dage: box & manual art Stryche: shipping & fulfillment J6: “executive producer” Glisel: coordinator & helpful ghost Regular edition CIB Game Evolution: Artix Entertainment launched their crowdfunding campaign for Dungeons & DoomKnights on Kickstarter on April 1, 2019. Backer tiers included a digital package, regular edition CIB with gray cartridge, and a Collector’s Edition CIB with a special gold cartridge in the spirit of the Legend of Zelda. By the campaign’s conclusion, 1,025 backers pledged almost $55,000 toward the project, breaking through numerous stretch goals, unlocking a celebrity voice actor for the game trailer (George Lowe of Space Ghost Coast to Coast fame), all backers having their name in the credits, an Artix AMA livestream, a director’s “un-cut” chaos rom (a bonus rom in which you play as the villain), signed manuals for physical tier backers, and an 8-bit map in AdventureQuest Worlds for all backers. Gameplay Overview: Dungeons & DoomKnights describes itself as a Zeldavania action adventure, mixing adventure and platformer levels. You play as the good paladin, Artix, who returned to his hometown only to find it decimated by Sepulchure, a master of the undead. Your quest begins with you chasing the DoomKnight on the back of a dragon, hoping to defeat him before he can reach his castle and muster his evil army for an even larger assault. With the help of your undead-slaying puppy, Daimyo, and Gravelyn, a mysterious warrior guide who was raised by the darkness, you might just have a fighting chance. Gameplay consists of areas mixing Zelda-like adventure screens and Castlevania-like dungeons. The controls between the two types of screens are similar but have subtle differences. When playing in an adventure area, the D-pad affords you 8-directional movement, the A button uses your selected skill (Select toggles through available skills), and the B button unleashes your attack…or conversational skills. Meanwhile in a platforming dungeon area, the D-pad is limited to left/right movement, while the A button allows you to jump, the B button still attacks/talks, Select still toggles through your skillset, and Up & A lets loose a special attack. And along the way, you'll find a host of powers and treasures which will expand your skills and sustain you through your journey. Writer’s Review: Dungeons & DoomKnights delivers on its Zeldavania promise, channeling the quasi-overhead alternating with side-scrolling adventure screens of several beloved entries of Link’s 2D exploits and games like Dick Tracy. But a Zelda clone this ain’t (and a Dick Tracy clone remains on my wishlist...just sayin'). Like many games I’ve covered, Dungeons & DoomKnights knows where it came from, but stakes out its own territory, and masters it. The prologue takes care of the first chunk of exposition, allowing you to literally jump right into the action. But also FIGURATIVELY! Gameplay is easy to learn, but practice is crucial: the adventure and dungeon screens can look very similar at first glance, but your movement is very different. Moving between screens can plant you eye to eye with a monster, so you don’t want to be disoriented with how to fight them off lest you take an immediate hit. Despite that challenge, this game’s difficulty is the right kind of exciting, like a high-fantasy horror movie in which you persistently worry what may lurk just around the corner or beyond that cave entrance. If I had to compare the gameplay of the different screens to other games, I would argue that the adventure screens feel like the original Legend of Zelda or Anguna: Scourge of the Goblin King, while the dungeons remind me of Astyanax or Dick Tracy (last reference, I promise…this time). Dungeons & DoomKnights’ graphics are the quintessential cute but detailed, with sprites carefully designed to make use of each pixel, complemented by animations that are surprisingly dynamic. It was while making Artix run in place against a tombstone (like one does) to compare it to Little Mac’s running animation from Punch Out that I noticed how Artix’s shoulders also swivel when he runs. It’s a subtle point that could look ugly in less careful hands, but here it reinforces the gameplay’s smooth flow and meticulous crafting. Meanwhile, the game’s music is a deep, metal jam session, like a bass-led love letter to high fantasy. I listened to a number of fantasy adventure soundtracks to find an apt comparison, but nothing came close; most of the other games that one might presume are comparable in sound might have a bass line you can identify, but it’s usually buried under high-pitched chirps, as if those tones were a requirement of any game with knights and monsters. The closest analogous chiptunes are the bass grooves of Sly Dog Studios, with its layers of dark, guttural ambiance. Dungeons & DoomKnights revels in a soundtrack that conveys this game is a dirty struggle, that it’s the PG-13 big brother to all the fantasy games you played before, and you’re going to enjoy every gritty minute of it. Christopher Lee would be proud Interviews: For all the juicy stories, I journeyed into the dungeon and spoke with several members of the development team about their adventure and various past quests… Artix @ArtixKrieger -Before we dive into Dungeons & DoomKnights, I would love to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to become a game developer? What is the origin story of Artix Entertainment? Thank you for interviewing me on Dungeons and DoomKnights! Our studio, Artix Entertainment will be celebrating 20 years of creating and publishing games next year. You want the real story? When I was little, my friend and I were obsessed with Castlevania. We were out at a restaurant having lunch with my parents, rambling on and on about the game. My father looked at us and said, "If you guys love video games so much... why not make one?" Inspired, we literally ran to my friend's house. His father was a well to do construction guy and they had a computer. We spent the next several hours going all out to make the greatest game ever! Turns out, it was not possible to make a game in Microsoft Word (At least not in those early days of the 1st version of Windows). Building games became a lifelong obsession. After years and a thousand never-completed games, I created a prototype for a weird, anything-goes fantasy game called AdventureQuest. My goal was to get just 100 people to play it 3 times (because if they played it less than that, that meant they did not like it.) THEN... I could say "I built a real game" and finally cross it off my life's goal list. But we did not get 100 players.... we got thousands, then hundreds of thousands, and then millions. Over the past 20 years over 200 million accounts have been created for the original AdventureQuest which is still updated every single week to this day. We grew an amazing team of creative people and made and continue to update a lot of other games too. You can see the things we are up to at www.Artix.com. Weekly updates? Now THAT’S a quest -You burst onto the homebrew scene with Dungeons & DoomKnights, but in truth you’re a veteran in gaming with popular franchises such as Adventure Quest and DragonFable, among others, under your belt. How would you describe your aesthetic? My grandfather always says, "Don't take life too seriously, no one gets out of it alive." Our games are an anything goes casserole of the dark, fun, and funny. -Have you noticed any changes in your style or game development preferences over the years? Absolutely! Our path of game development has grown from 2D Flash games to 3D cross-play Massively Multiplayer Role-Playing Games, to a new game for the 1985 NES. A straight line of upward technological progress. -In your opinion, what makes Artix’s various games so popular? What makes for engaging stories and designs? "Marketing! Get ready for AdventureQuest the Flamethrower. The Kids will love it!" Our most popular games are updated weekly with new monsters, weapons, stories, and features. It is like releasing a free DLC every week... for each game. We would do this for Dungeons & DoomKnights too, but we are having a hard time getting everyone's NES console to connect to the internet. -The “Dungeons & DoomKnights” name evokes that classic Dungeons & Dragons fantasy feel, not to mention the shared “D&D” abbreviation. Do you participate in Dungeons & Dragons campaigns? What about the genre resonates so strongly with you? One of our backers officially coined it "D&DK". And... somewhat surprisingly, there are only two DoomKnights in Dungeons and DoomKnights. Which is at the heart of the game's somewhat tragic story. I love classic tabletop role playing games. Most people do not know I am an avid collector of old school Dungeons & Dragons and Battletech games, books, and magazines. We were just joking around when we came up with the name for this game. It also sounded better than DoomKnighTech. The fantasy genre offers complete freedom. You can encounter chickencows, dragons, find a crashed spaceship, and then raid a vampire infested castle. It is extremely freeing. And I thought chicken fried steak was confusing enough already -What tools do you use to create? Dungeons and DoomKnights is a "Zeldavania" built on NESMaker 4.1.5 with an insane amount of custom 6502 Assembly language code. Also used Shiru's Screen tool a lot. Our artist, Clarion, got us all hooked on using Asesprite for pixel art. We keep one GIANT master file with literally all the pixel art in the game in it-- then copy/pasta individual pieces out into the sprite sheets. We also love Pyxel for doing background tile sets and paths. Photoshop was used for everything else. Jongaar & Broomtool did all 20 of the game's chiptune songs in FamiTracker. Not sure what they used to do the heavy metal remixes. We have two discord servers. One is for backers where we release new ROMs for testing. The people there are AMAZING! We also have a discord server for the team. We meet there and work together in voice chat, sharing our screens, and rapidly hurling spiel art and code fragments back and forth at each other. Sorta like a 6502 ASM food fight. -Artix’s games are generally designed for more modern platforms, what inspired you to develop a game for the NES? A few years ago I was going through a real rough patch. Not making excuses but running a studio doing non-stop releases for as long as we do can really run you down. I was looking for something to re-spark my passion for video games. Went on a walk with a stick in the woods. Thought, "You know, I have my old Nintendo in storage... I should pull it out and raise my children 'classically'!" As my kids were playing Kid Icarus, Simon's Quest, and Karnov I started wondering, "How did they even make these things?" I found the movie "The New 8-Bit Heroes" on Amazon Prime. It was a documentary about Joe Granato and his quest to build his childhood dream game. A little Google-fu revealed that 1) He lived just an hour away from me; and 2) He was working on a toolset for NES devs called NESmaker. So I purchased the software and entered his first ever "Byte-Off Challenge" which was a 1-month challenge to build an NES game. That first version of NESmaker was pretty rough, and I was BLOWN AWAY by how friendly and inviting the members of their community were. It took me right back to those early days of the internet. Everyone on their forums went out of their way to help each other. People like Dale Coop, Kasumi, CutterCross, Chronicler of Legends, and countless others. I had found my happy place. Never would have bet, that at this stage of life, I would be learning 6502 Assembly XD. Or enjoying it so much. My submission to that first Byte-Off was "Artix: Knight of the Living Dead". I had so much fun making it! Maybe too much. April 1st was coming, and every year we do jokes across our games. This year I made a post saying that "The next major game in the AdventureQuest series is coming... exclusively for the 1985 NES!" Everyone laughed. Until they clicked the link and saw it was real. We had launched a Kickstarter for Dungeons And DoomKnights: An 8-Bit AdventureQuest. -If I’m not mistaken, Dungeons & DoomKnights was the first project from the NESmaker community brought to Kickstarter (aside from Mystic Searches). Did you feel any pressure being first out of the gate, helping introduce the community to a wider audience? Oh yes... I jumped the gun. (and probably a few sharks) Originally, Dungeons and DoomKnights was not intended to be a big project. We did not expect many backers. Just enough to do a small run of physical carts-- which would make it a fun and memorable project. The game itself was expected to be an expanded version of my Byte-Off submission with all the bugs fixed. BUT...... Once the Homebrew community caught word of this, I came under heavy fire. Not just from them, even Joe Granato was mad at me. I had really jumped the gun. What I was doing had the potential of setting a super bad precedent and ushering in an age of NES shovelware. It was at that moment, I realized this was not just going to be an expanded version of my Byte-Off submission... it had to be the best game I have ever made. And from that moment on, that is what I was creating. So if anyone wondered why my 2-month game project turned into 2+ years.... now you know. Once you play Dungeons and DoomKnights, you will instantly see the heart, love, and dedication put into it. -Tell me about your creative process while working on Dungeons & DoomKnights? For the past two years, I do my normal work in the days, have supper with the family, and then at 9:30pm (after the kids are Zzzzz) I work with Clarion on Dungeons and DoomKnights until ~1am. On weekends, if my mother takes the kids, I get two full days to focus on it. The team has a Discord server. We join voice chat at night and share our screens while we work. We spend most of our time flinging files back and forth at each other. Dale Coop is in France, so as the testers encounter bugs and I have "great new ideas that are 100% certain not to break the game! (™)" I post them. It always shocks me when I wake up in the morning and he already fixed or added the feature. The team has grown so much during this project. Clarion's art is my favorite part. We come up with monster ideas.... then I will do a really terrible stick figure that occupies the correct space of the sprite sheet. Then Clarion uses art wizard magic to make it look amazing. We jammed all of the monsters, NPCs, and weird things into that game that we could. -Ever since my first episode, artist M-Tee planted this idea in my mind that a game’s protagonist serves as the player's point of immersion in the game, informing how we understand the game's world. I also believe that the protagonist’s design serves as a reflection of its designer. What was the intention behind Artix’s design? Do you see yourself in him? Every single one of our previous games allows you to create a custom character, choose your name, and how you look. But there was no publicly accessible internet in 1985 and the NES could not connect to it even if there was. So, in Dungeons and DoomKnights, you are playing an alternate history where you (the hero from our other games) never existed. You play as Artix, a young "paladin" seeking to avenge the people of your town from the DoomKnight and his evil forces the undead. Along the way you meet popular characters, monsters, and locations from the AdventureQuest games. And haha, yes... I have played Artix as my character in every game I have ever played since the 5th grade. Even wrote Artix as my middle name on my High School Diploma o_O. I really like the character. He represents everything I aspire to be. -There are several photos of you in a full suit of armor (along with the Power Glove), where did you acquire it? Oh. I live in a sorta castle-looking place. There is armor and swords all over the place here. If you are ever in Tampa, FL let me know so we can have you over for dinner. It’ll be Medieval Times, the HOME VERSION. Wait, do I have to fight for my meal? -Given the wider, interconnected AdventureQuest universe, are there any bits of story you want audiences to know that exist only in your head canon? Gravelyn (pronounced Grave-Lynn) is the DoomKnight's daughter. She was raised in his flying undead castle. Being raised by zombies, ghosts, and ghouls, she probably does not realize she is actually.... alive. As a child of darkness, this path is the only one she has ever known. In Dungeons and DoomKnights she serves as your reluctant, yet seductive guide to dark powers through the game. But what there were literally 0 bytes of space left to communicate through text... is that her father truly loves her. Being a good dad sorta puts him at odds with his life's goal of conquering, eradicating the living, and annexing our world to the Plane of Darkness. It is entirely possible that some part of her father has been intentionally pushing for the "true ending" of the game to happen. Maybe he knew that out of her extreme desire for approval from him would cause her to create the circumstances that conclude the game-- any of them. That he might have done everything that happened in this game just to save her. -How did you first connect with each member of the development team? What was the working dynamic like in your collaboration with them? I am so grateful to have all of these creative people in my life. Here is the short version of how I met each of the team. I love these guys so much. Clarion - Had previously worked with us on the MechQuest game. Had not talked to him in a really long time and he mentioned liking pixel art. Asked him to join me in the Byte-Off and we have been working together ever since. Dale Coop - I had been reading Dale Coop's solutions, code tips, and comments on the NESmaker forum. Everyone went to him for help. He had become quite a celebrity there. During the 1st Byte-Off Competition I ran into a problem and messaged him. Next thing you know I had watched all three seasons of Twin Peaks and took David Lynch's class on Master Class (not joking.) We became good friends. Dale and his family flew here from France and stayed with my family for a week. We went to visit the NESmaker studio together. This project would have never been possible without him. His young son created the Kubo series of game. My kids love Kubo 3. You should check it out if you have not already. Keep your eye on that boy... he is really something and if there was a stock on him, I would be all-in investing in it. Ultimate Gilby - We were both members of the NESmaker community and somehow realized we only lived a half-hour away from each other. He came to the Secret Underground Lab (our office in Tampa... which does not actually have basements. Nothing has basements in Florida. It is all sand down there). For a D&DK live stream for backers. We became instant friends. He has been working on his upcoming NES project, Hazard. Jongaar - I was at a restaurant having sushi with my wife. Bitcoin was surging at the time. I was looking at it on my phone. This fella with long blonde hair was sitting next to his girlfriend. He looked over and said, "Oh, you too?" and showed me his phone which had the same app open. I told him I did not know much about crypto currency yet. The Secret Underground Lab was located in the same plaza. So we all went to my office and he gave me a 3 hour long master class, setting me up to trade crypto. Then, he quit his job and joined Artix Entertainment full time as our Music and sound FX guy. When I told him I was doing an NES game and asked if he wanted to try, he said "HELL YEAH!" Broomtool - Broomtool is Jongaar's longtime friend. He had been helping on the heavy metal mixes of the Dungeons and DoomKnights Soundtrack, and also working on the music for some of our other games. He is a super talented musician and joined us just in the last year. Pixel Pete - In the early days of D&DK development, Pixel Pete did a lot of our background art. Many years ago, he had visited our lab while he was still a student. Later, he became a programmer on AdventureQuest 3D. He was a great guy to work with and we still keep in touch. He worked on D&DK while transitioning out to work on his personal dream project. Dioz - Comic book cover artist with a long history of collaborations with Artix Entertainment, Dioz created Dungeons and DoomKnights cover. Dage - Dage is a fan favorite artist of Artix Entertainment. We noticed his work from some of our art contests. We flew him to Florida and hired him on the spot. Despite his already massive workload, he has played an important role in keeping Dungeons and DoomKnights.... Dark. FJ - Winner "Best Game" at the last Byte-Off, FJ is well known in the NESmaker community. His Pixel art is out of this world. He helped take our games art to the next level. It is probably bad form to talk about this publicly... but Clarion and FJ have an unspoken rivalry going. I think they keep pushing each other to new heights. Sorta like when Goku and Vegeta spar in DragonBall. J6 - In the credits, J6 is listed as Executive Producer. We have no idea why. He said he wanted that title because ii means nothing X_X. I have been working with J6 for about 17 years. He has drawn art for nearly all of the Artix Entertainment games. Check out the wicked map he made in Dungeon and DoomKnight's instruction manual. Stryche - We have an online store called HeroMart.com -- Stryche is in charge of it. He does the order fulfillment, creates new products, and puts things together for conventions. I first met him at Martial Arts. He was just a little kid at the time. When he became an adult, he was brought to the Lab by a mutual friend. We have around 47 full time employees at this time. Nearly a month later, I noticed he was working in the HeroMart room every day with orders. I asked our Controller, "Did we hire Stryche?" He replied, "No." We hired him. Next thing we knew Stryche was running the place. He is looking forward to assembling and shipping everyone their physical carts. Glisel - As our coordinator, Glisel makes sure I am working on the things I am supposed to be working on. During the day, she is best described as a disembodied voice that haunts my home-office. When my children enter my home-office, at any time, they say "Hi Glisel!" ... even if Glisel is not online. Even know as I type this, you can hear her, "Artix, hurry up. You have a meeting in 10 minutes." #GhostsAreReal -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in developing Dungeons & DoomKnights? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps? Challenges? Oh yes. O_O Oh yes.......... I had been working 16+ hour days with no end of the project in sight. My other projects had fallen behind. We stumbled on what appeared to be unsolvable bug after unsolvable bug. The backers were getting restless. I had health problems. My grandmother passed away. Then I lost my father. So if anyone reading this should find themselves in the horrors of "Project Hell" and everything feels like it is falling apart... here is a list of what I did to take Dungeons and DoomKnights it to the finish line: ● Write your goals down on a piece of paper every day Seriously. ● Be brutally honest with your backers. Be 100% transparent. It is OK to be cheery and optimistic, but always give it to them straight. They are a part of your project. They want to be aware of the bad times. And they want to be there with you when you push through and ultimately succeed. Because that will be their win too. ● Create a Habit I used to try to create everything in a burst. But it is better to create the habit of making progress every day. For BIG projects, persistence wins out. ● See yourself finishing it in your head I know it sounds cliche, but literally if you can see it, you can achieve it. I always need to see it done in my head before I do something (that I am actually going to finish.) ● MicroSprints When the going really gets tough, try chopping your giant project into super tiny pieces. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. ● Wear the Clothes you wore when you were last successful Weird human hack. If you put on clothes that you associate wearing when you are doing something important, or super good-- it changes the way you feel and can make a huge improvement in your work. ● Just do ONE next thing Some days were so tough... that the only way I could get myself to do ANYTHING, was just to force myself to do one, super trivial, super simple thing. Then I would find I would just do the next thing, and the next thing, and before I knew it, I was back on a roll. ● Start with a draft, make it work, then polish At the start, I tried to make every screen perfect before moving onto the next. A far better strategy is to make a draft. Then make rapid edits to the draft. Get it working. Then go back and do a super round of polish to make it shine at the end. ● Reading instead of TV at night I find that when I read at night, instead of watching TV, my mind is better rested, and I am more productive the next day. ● Reduce Coffee, Increase Water I tend to constantly increase the amount of coffee I drink.... Thinking that more = better. Turns out, water makes the coffee work better. Reducing the coffee to 3 cups a day and adding lots of good water = more mental boost. ● Hire a Coach At the deepest pit of my project hell, I hired a time Management Coach to help me get my schedule in order. Feels weird to say I needed help, but at that time I sure did. Of course, there are books out there that can do the same thing or finding an equally passionate peer who is working hard on their project can help motivate and drive you too. ● Make unmovable deadlines For a big project that you have 100% control over, one of the BEST ways to push it hard to the finish line, is to have hard deadlines that you cannot move. Sorta like when that book report is due Friday, and it is Thursday night XD. -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon, NES or otherwise? Any dream projects? We have new releases for all of our major games every week. After the physical Dungeons and DoomKnights are shipped to backers, I would like to make a 3DSen version, and wrap it in an executable that we can publish on Steam. This year's big project is a Mobile & Steam port of our most popular game, AdventureQuest Worlds (www.AQ.com). We have been working like crazy on this project. Also in the background, we have been semi-secretly working with a company that builds robotic prosthetic limbs for children. We are building a little interactive game to help teach how to use the arms. Please do check out the new stuff we are doing at www.Artix.com -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? I am really hoping Dimension Shift gets finished. It has the most beautiful art. I am really looking forward to playing all of the game demo's being released in the NESmaker community next month. They are going to be showcasing a ton of games at the Midwest Gaming Classic. I know FJ is working on something special for the show. Screenshot from Dimension Shift -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? Thank you so much! I hope there is something of value here for everyone reading this. I am going to attend the Midwest Gaming Classic convention this November. I think there are going to be some NESmaker events. So if you or anyone reading this is going to be there, would love to meet! Drop me a message at any of the social media accounts below. BATTLE ON! Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArtixKrieger Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/artixkrieger Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/artix/ Itch.io: https://artixgames.itch.io Discord: https://www.artix.com/Discord Website: https://www.Artix.com Dale Coop @Dale_Coop -Before we dive into Dungeons & DoomKnights, let’s catch up! How have you been since we talked about Kubo 3? How’s Seiji? Seiji and I are doing very well, thank you. I hope you and the readers are too. Seiji is now 9 years old, growing up and is quite busy with school and hobbies. -Between the work you do on yours and others’ games, and Seiji’s work, is there a friendly father-son rivalry between you two? Haha... no, not really. Seiji and I are not really in competition. He creates worlds, characters, stories and uses the tools at his disposal for that. Me, I'm more in the shadow, I code what creators like Seiji need (in order to use in NESmaker)... It's more of a complementary job. I'm happy and very proud that Seiji can go ahead with his projects and realize his ideas. I don't know what he will do in the future. I don't push him, we continue to work together sometimes when he asks, when he has ideas. But he has many other interests. The rest of the time, I work on other projects. -At one point during Kevin Hanley’s NES Spectrum Marathon, we were talking in the chat, and you mentioned that at one point, you were working on 5 different games at once! Can you tell us more about what you’re working on? How do you juggle so many projects at once? Exactly, until a few days ago, I had 5 projects in progress on which I was working... First of all, there is "ZDey the Game" by Art'Cade, a nice little project for the street artist Tim Zdey who wanted a simple NES game, short, scoring, very arcade... for the ZDey arcade cabinet (made by Art’cade). This is a commission. The project started in 2019, there were a few months of sleep. But we finished the game recently. The official release took place a few days ago at an event organized in Paris. The arcade cabinet is beautiful and seeing my game running on it is a great pride. Screenshot from Zdey by Art’cade Since last year, I'm also working on "REKNUM Souls Adventure" from Nape Games, a small adventure platformer. Having been called on the previous project, PLOID, as a consultant coder, I naturally joined this new project to manage all the code this time. We have finished the game and are currently in the beta phase. A project I'm also helping out is my friend Raftronaut's (Jordan Davis) project: "Arcade Raft". It's the arcade version of his famous game “Space Raft” released last year. Jordan is a very close friend and I'm happy to code anything he wants for his project(s). He also helps me with the musical part of my personal projects. Oh! Of course (as I said before), I continue to work with Seiji. At the moment, we are finishing KUBO 1 & 2, a small cartridge which would gather his first 2 demos. It's a very small project, but Seiji wanted to make some small changes (or rather additions). It takes time because with Seiji, we work only a couple of hours per month. I can announce that it's finished, we just have to finalize the packaging (and manual) and then see what we can do with our friend Broke Studio (probably a very small print! for the fans). On my side, I have one or two personal projects that I'm not really working on, due to lack of time or motivation... haha. But one day, maybe. And finally, "Dungeons & Doomknights" from Artix Entertainment on which I've been working for 2 years, it's a "Zeldavania" game in the AdventureQuest universe, Adam Bohn (aka Artix) proposed me to join his team in this wonderful project, as main coder. And after some delays (Covid,...) the game is now finished and should be released in a few days. Can’t wait, it’s really an amazing project. 5 projects, it may seem like a lot, but they are long term projects. I work alternatively on each of them, depending on the feedback I receive or new ideas. Sometimes the priorities change. I am lucky that these projects take their time and have the people I work with are really kind. I could not have worked on projects with a pressure, or a release date too close, ... Moreover, I don't work for money or fame, I accept projects that inspire me, passionate people and with whom I connect well. All the people I worked with have become very good friends. And... I give little help, from time to time, on projects when I'm asked (recent example, some graphic glitch corrections on "Plummet Challenge Game" from Fista Productions). -You’ve become an authority figure in the NESmaker community for your skills and advice. How does it feel to be looked up to by so many homebrewers? It makes me happy, of course. I am flattered. But that is not my motivation. When I started developing in Assembly, I knew nothing about it. I discovered NESmaker and started like everyone else by following the tutorials and asking for help on the forum. I learned a lot from the community. After a while, I started to answer questions, in my turn and gave back the advice that I was given... and more. It's normal and I'm very happy to help if/when I can. This "recognition" allowed me to meet interesting people, passion projects, ... And still today, people come to talk to me thanks to this, I am flattered and so grateful. Often, I feel the impostor syndrome and am afraid of the day when the world will realize that I don't deserve all this. Because, honestly, I don't think I do such a good job. Haha... The NESmaker community is growing every day, we now have many talented coders, much more skilled than me. Many of them share and help. I am happy. It's a very nice community. -Do you have a different approach/attitude toward the games you work on for yourself compared to those for which you are commissioned? Is the experience of developing them different? Not really. Whether it's a project I've been commissioned for or a more personal project, in both cases I spend a lot of time coding, fixing bugs and trying to implement new features useful to the project. But, it's true that for a personal project, I'm more tempted to test more risky code ideas and try experimenting... and when it works well, with some hindsight, I can more easily propose and reuse it on other projects. For example, on one of my personal projects, I had the idea of not using the NESmaker screen editor for designing my cutscenes and instead creating the screens in the NES Screen Tool (made by Shiru… I love that tool). Then, I would import those data into my project with some custom routines. This allowed me to overcome some of the limitations of NESmaker (the number and size of tiles available). I then reused that code in ZDey and in Dungeons & Doomknights. -What was the working dynamic like with the rest of the development team? It was a great pleasure (and an honor) to work with these talented people. Artix managed all the tasks, the progress and who had to do what. We have a server Discord where we chat every day... it keeps us on track and informed of everyone's progress. Generally, I was given a list of tasks to code (implement, modify or correct). I live in France, not in the same time zone than the other team members. We try to meet on the Discord. But usually when they log in to work, my day is over and I go to bed... and when I log in to work, everyone is already in bed. Haha… some days we sync’d our working time. A very memorable moment, for me, last year, I went to Florida, I was welcomed by Artix. He has become a very close friend. He showed me around his area, his world and we got to work a little bit on DnDK together, irl. It was in February 2020, only a few days before the world situation we all know! (the Covid pandemic … for all the people from 2046 who are reading that interview) -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in programming Dungeons & DoomKnights? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps? We had many little challenges and surprises... Artix will surely tell some of them. On my side, the biggest challenge was to set up the save system, at the beginning of the project. Indeed, by default the games created with NESmaker do not offer a way to save your progress. Thanks to the forum, Kasumi and FrankenGraphics gave me all the help I needed to implement this in Dungeons & Doomknights. I also implemented a small selection system for it. The save system can't really be generalized (that's why it's not proposed in NESmaker, I guess) because the information to save is project-specific. Of course there are some general information like the position in the map or in the screen or maybe the number of lives... but depending on the project, some people use and want to save the number of HP, coins, ammo, hp, character level, skills, ... all this depends on the features used/implemented in the project. The variables to save are quite different from one project to another. Another concern we had was the limitation of the number of monsters. In NESmaker, we can only have 64 monsters (including NPCs)... this is a limitation of the software. But in a game like Dungeons & Doomknights, this is not enough. So Artix had to idea we could implement a system of "skins" (different tilesets for different screens), so that the same NPC object could be reused many times and look different each time. That one of the kind of things we had… I won't even mention all the little bugs we had that kept us busy for days. Working with Artix was a pleasure, he is a coder too, but above all he has the experience of managing a dev team on a game. That helps a lot. Often, it was Artix himself who came up with ideas for features, or workarounds,... In the end, discussing and finding compromises is what allowed us to move forward. I mean, it seems like you all figured it out pretty well -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon? Any dream projects? Most of my current projects have just ended or will end in a few days. So I'm entering in a quieter period... good for reflection or experimentations on my personal projects. I remain open to any request for collaboration or commission on small personal or artistic projects. I don't really have a dream project, I'm already working on projects that I like. -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? I can't wait to have a copy of Alwa's Awakening in my hands. This game is beautiful (I played a bit with the demo). Brad Smith and Elden Pixels did an amazing job. There is also Full Quiet from Retrotainment Games that I am looking forward to. Screenshot of Alwa’s Awakening by Elden Pixels -Your signature on each forum belong to includes a quote that all you need is a “damn fine cup of coffee.” What makes a damn fine cup of coffee for you? Any companies you like in particular? How do you take your coffee? Haha, yes, coffee is my work companion. I always have a cup of coffee with me, all day long. I take my coffee black, no sugar and hot. I don't like it too strong. I don't have a particular brand. I like to discover coffee from all over the world. I really liked coffee when I was in the USA (it was the first time for me and my family). I'm pretty used to the coffee that we have here in France. -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? Thank you, Sean. It's a pleasure to answer your questions. Everyone run out and get your NES cartridge of Dungeons & Doomknights! And more seriously, keep supporting the NES homebrew scene, its creators, the artists. It's wonderful. Thanks to all of you. Clarion @Clarion_AE -Before we dive into Dungeons & DoomKnights, I would love to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to become a pixel artist? What is the origin story of Clarion? As a child I grew up playing the consoles that were passed down to me so I kind of got a chronological introduction to video games, at least starting with the NES. I started to draw characters in MS Paint and actually had a background in the Sonic fan community for most of my youth making custom Sonic sprites. -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? For as long as I can remember, I had always looked up to Adam (Artix) so it’s really been a lifelong dream of mine to be able to work with Artix Entertainment. As for who I’m watching now? There are a few creators that I follow pretty closely. Paul Robertson, Toby Fox, Yacht Club Games, Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya and Joakim “Konjak” Sandberg to name a few. -Do you feel your artwork has a signature aesthetic that is uniquely you? How would you describe the feel of your work? If I were to describe my aesthetic it would be a cross between Mega Man and Scott Pilgrim vs the World. I really like cute things but... COOL cute things. I'm often told I make things too cute looking. Even if it makes you think about death and feel sad and stuff -In your opinion, what makes good pixel art and game animation stand out? I think style and colour go a long way and can make up for shortcomings easily. I'm a sucker for really nice colour combinations. -What tools do you use to create? For most of my life I've used MS Paint but years back I had switched to Aseprite as far as pixel art goes. However I'm also versed in Adobe Flash, Photoshop, Procreate and Clip Studio Paint. -Do you have a preference for creating a particular platform? Does your process differ when working within a different set of limitations? I don't really have a preference for creating on a particular platform, Genuinely I just enjoy making things. The process of making pixel art for a NES game did bring up limitations though, mostly with planning for size and colour restrictions. -Tell me about your creative process while working on Dungeons & DoomKnights? How did you transform the concept art from the page to the screen for this game? How do you maintain the important details of that art given the limitations of coding for a decades-old gaming console like the NES? This might be a little unorthodox, but I didn't really do much concept art on paper for this project I kind of doodled around until I got what I was looking for. For maintaining details you really just need to make sure you make the core features of a character pop, even if you have to over exaggerate them a bit. Nothing wrong with doodling -What was the working dynamic like with the rest of the development team? We're all friends so it was pretty great, everyone gets along pretty well and knowing we were working together on this project formed a really great comradery. -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in developing Dungeons & DoomKnights? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps? When things are daunting you kind of have to just do it. It can be intimidating staring at a blank page but the moment you start getting the ball rolling things get easier. -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon, NES or otherwise? Any dream projects? Currently I'm working on Adventure Quest 3D, which is our cross-platform MMORPG playable on PC and Mobile Devices and picking away at a personal project on the side which might count as a dream project. -Your Twitter feed includes some fun creations using licensed characters like the Power Rangers, Master Chief, and even Garfield. If you could be commissioned to work on a licensed game, what IP would you want it to be? This might sound strange but I've not really thought too much about working on many different IPs. I've always preferred the idea of making my own stuff but if I had to pick something I think it would be Shovel Knight. -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? There's two projects I could think of off the top of my head that I'm looking forward to giving a shot. Firstly would be Chaos Between Realms by FJ, and HAZARD: Let us Out by UltimateGilby. Screenshot from Chaos Between Realms 2020 Byte-Off Demo by FJ -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? I'd genuinely just like to thank you for giving me a platform to talk about Dungeons & DoomKnights and for everyone taking the time to read this. Thank you so very much! Jongaar @Jongaar_AE -Before we talk about Dungeons & DoomKnights, I want to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to be a musician? What led you to compose music for games? What is the origin story of Jongaar? Hello! Thanks for having me as a guest! When I was younger, I picked up the guitar and really enjoyed figuring out how to play metal music. Eventually I discovered a genre of metal called folk metal and I fell in love with that sound. While learning how to write music in that style, I started scoring orchestral arrangements to accompany the guitar riffs I played. Fast forward a decade later and now I'm composing video game music with a lot of similarities to folk metal! How I got started at Artix Entertainment is pretty unique. In 2017, I was at the sushi bar in my favorite restaurant, and I heard someone sitting next to me mention something about cryptocurrency. I just got into trading and found the whole concept pretty neat. I asked him “Are you into it too?” and we shared some laughs. We talked for a while and then he handed me his business card. The art on it looked so familiar... I put two and two together and realized he was the creator of games I once played as a kid. We ended up hanging out after dinner and from there, our friendship began. A few months later I had a random idea; I sent a text message to Artix and asked him if there was an official “AQ3D theme song” for a fun project I had in mind. He sent me an orchestral track which I ended up adding guitars, bass, and drums to, turning it into a “metal” song. Artix loved it! He extended the opportunity to have a go at composing music for one of his games, AdventureQuest 3D, and thus the creation of my alias Jongaar! -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? There are a lot of composers that I think really permeated into my writing style -Jari Mäenpää, Henri Sorvali, Jeremy Seoule, and Grant Kirkhope just to name a few! Jari Mäenpää, or quite possibly Jongaar after he shaves -Do you feel that your music has any qualities that are quintessentially you? How would you describe your aesthetic? When I write music, I find myself using a lot of guitar-like phrasing to pull the listener through different parts of a song. I enjoy writing a few themes per track and then doing what I can to make them shine, favoring a horizontal style of composition. This approach helped immensely when writing for the NES. -You’re an outspoken lover of folk metal, what about that genre resonates so strongly with you? Hahaha yes! I really enjoy folk metal because it's so thematic and exciting. It often tells the tales of heroes, epic journeys, or otherworldly adventures through folkish instruments and lyrics paired with metal music. I love the energy. -In your opinion, what makes for compelling video game music? Hmm... in my opinion… anything with a hook that has a purpose. Whether it is trying to represent a desert with music, or an ice capped mountain, if it's “stuck in your head” I enjoy it. -What tools do you use to compose, generally as well as for games? For most of the music I write as well as sound effects, I use Reaper. Dungeons DoomKnights was a little different as I had to use FamiTracker. Providing yet another good reason people should not fear The Reaper -Tell me about the development of Dungeons & DoomKnights’ music, what is your composition process? Is the creative process different compared to when you compose more traditional music? The developmental process was a journey - there were a lot of late nights Artix and I spent together implementing changes and tweaks to our audio files to get them to work properly. Some nights were wins where we celebrated, other nights were the opposite... Still we continued! It was always exciting whenever Clarion would have a new set of sprites to get inspiration from, his pixel artwork influenced the music so much. I owe a huge thanks to CutterCross, a pinnacle of help and information for the NESmaker community, for their aid while wading through the waters of NESmaker and FamiTracker. Halfway through the developmental process we added another member to the audio team, Broomtool. Broomtool has been a tremendous help - he scored several tracks and sound effects as well as handled a majority of the audio engineering and made the audio fit on the ROM. We have worked together for several years but bringing him on board to the D&DK team really brought the audio to the next level. Thanks, Broomtool! In regard to my creative process while composing traditional tracks and chiptunes, they are pretty similar, I write some melodies and stack them up with accompanying parts. I had to be really mindful of the rhythms when writing in FamiTracker to make the tracks loop correctly. -Your work with Artix Entertainment spans a wide assortment of platforms for its games. How does your approach to composition compare between the NES and composing for modern platforms with different restrictions? The biggest difference would definitely be the limitations the NES has when it comes to what sounds you can produce and how many. Modern composing is nearly limitless, you can have hundreds of tracks while with the NES you're limited to just a few. -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in your work on Dungeons & DoomKnights? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps? I never expected that the first track I would write for the game would take up so much space. I quickly realized how important it is to use as little memory as possible. Some tips I can give are to keep things simple. If you’re stuck writing, work on your percussion, once it’s laid out the track is a lot easier to see. Cutting out notes in busy sections saves memory and can make interesting harmonies. -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit out of the loop for homebrew games currently in development, but I've seen a few shared within some discord channels that look awesome! When I have some more time to play I'd love to check some of them out! -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? Thank you for inviting me to this interview! I had a great time sharing some stories! Oh yeah, one more thing! Check out our remixed version of our soundtrack if you’d like to hear the Dungeons & DoomKnights chiptunes arranged as metal tracks. Broomtool and I shared a lot of fun nights recording and putting together that album and would love for you to give it a listen! Look out for the remixes on music streaming platforms when Dungeons and DoomKnights is released. Thanks again! - Jongaar Conclusion: Thanks for tuning in to this latest episode of the series whose quest is to fetch the behind-the-scenes info that led to your favorite new homebrew games. What are your thoughts on Dungeons & DoomKnights its talented development team? Have you played any of the other AdventureQuest games? What homebrews are you eagerly looking forward to? Perhaps you’ll see it here soon when…A Homebrew Draws Near! Command?
  18. A Homebrew Draws Near! A blog series by @Scrobins Episode 20: Demons of Asteborg Introduction: Alongside the homebrew games we’ve discovered and loved the past several years, gaming on modern platforms has enjoyed its own retro renaissance, producing games offering offer an old-school “8-bit aesthetic” that players have eaten up. These games don’t technically adhere to the limits of the beloved consoles of old, but channel our nostalgia to catch our eyes. If only a few homebrews would turn the tables, taking on the seemingly impossible task of making what looks like a modern “retro-inspired” game that actually works on the old hardware. A “modern-inspired” retro game. Oh wait, Neofid Studios did just that. For this entry, I’m covering Demons of Asteborg, a platformer in the spirit of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, with other elements inspired by Castlevania, Mickey Mania, Space Harrier, and Panzer Dragoon, and developed by Neofid Studios for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. As of the time of this writing, Kickstarter backers have received their games, and the game can be purchased on Steam here; and for fans of physical releases: the rom, cart-only, regular edition CIB, and Collector’s Edition CIB can be purchased from Neofid Studios’ store here. CIB with original box art design (box art is reversible, featuring this design and Martins’) Development Team: Neofid Studios: Christophe Reboul: producer Simon Reboul: developer, level & enemy design Christopher Rolin: art direction, level design Commissioned Artists: Quenvy Malavé: principal 2D animator Diego Almeida: second 2D animator Veli’: third 2D animator Dillon Willette: character/enemy 2D designer Sasa Jovanovic: 2D environments and artworks designer Rasamimanana Cyril: 3D objects animator Willian Gonzalez: character design and graphical assets Luis Zuno: prototype graphical assets Jacob Altmaan: first musician Roland Seph: second musician Malthilde l’Elfe des bois: box artist Luis Martins: box/label artist CIB with Martins’ box art design Game Evolution: Demons of Asteborg launched on Kickstarter on September 25, 2019. Backer tiers included the game’s rom, a cart-only option, and CIB options, with stickers, mugs, your name in the credits or on a tomb found in the game also included in the mix of options, not to mention arcade cabinets of various sizes. By the time the campaign ended, 663 supporters pledged nearly €45,000 toward the game. The final total even blew through one of its stretch goals, unlocking a hardcore mode. On December 24, 2021, the Demons of Asteborg Twitter account announced and opened pre-orders for a limited Collector’s Edition of the game. This special run of 300 games included a special magnetic box; cartridge with new art, a new game mode, and a hidden level; plus a special manual, more stickers, postcards, map of Asteborg, a magnet, and a USB key with more game info. The Collector’s Edition, but ya gotta act now! Gameplay Overview: Demons of Asteborg describes itself as an action-platformer game with Metroidvania elements. You play as Gareth, the child of a legendary witch who helped lock away the demons after a brutal war between humans and demons proved coexistence in Asteborg was no longer possible. You have trained hard under the tutelage of Bohort, chief of the royal guard and your foster father. With your training complete, and your ascension to the ranks of the royal guard in your own right, you venture out into the kingdom of Asteborg to defeat Zadimus, the returned leader of the demon army. Gameplay consists of exploring Asteborg and defeating the demons and monsters that cross your path. In terms of basic controls, you attack with the A button (and pressing it multiple times executes a combo attack), while the B button allows you to jump (with higher jumps possible by holding the button down), and the C button unleashes a special ability acquired within each level, while pushing left/right on the d-pad moves you accordingly, and pressing down allows you to crouch. More complex actions are available as well, including rolling, wall jumps, combo attacks, and downward slashes. Magic is also a part of your skillset, with spells at your disposal that enable you to throw magic daggers, bounce back enemies and their projectiles, walk on air, and shoot flames! Don’t get too accustomed to some of these spells however, as you’ll drop each when starting the next level to make room for the next as your journey necessitates. But wait, there's more: visit the shops and peruse its wares for other attacks and abilities. Screenshot from Demons of Asteborg Writer’s Review: For a game striving to push so hard against the Sega Genesis’ boundaries, Demons of Asteborg feels remarkably smooth and comfortable, leaving you to wonder why there weren’t more games like this during the console’s original lifespan. Asteborg isn’t a modern game crammed into a retro console like some square peg into a round hole, shearing off pieces as it’s forced in. No. This game was built for the 16-bit world but with modern ideas to give it a distinctive color and feel that sets it apart from its older brethren. Gameplay looks and feels like an upgraded Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, but with more elaborate controls to add flavor to your movement and attacks (and feel significantly fairer to play). A nice touch is the fact that your abilities are not all available to you from the beginning: some abilities must be earned, while others are purchased, demanding your mastery of the fundamentals before opening up access to more advanced play. This is no easy task either, with level layouts that add some critical thinking and fast reaction timing to your platforming. If the enemies and hazards don’t stop you, the stunning graphics might. Lush, gorgeous backgrounds and parallax scrolling create an atmosphere so breathtaking you may actually stop slashing your way through the kingdom just to admire the view. Each character and enemy sprite, especially the avatars used in dialogue boxes, are meticulously detailed as they breathe life into environments that could serve as much as a pixel-based painting as a village or mine shaft. Meanwhile the music adds an epic adventure soundtrack that truly feels like the high fantasy cousin to Comix Zone, providing a driving momentum when you need to more forward, or mounting tension that makes a boss fight feel more daunting. Across the many homebrews I’ve played, I’ve noticed the extra effort many games’ music make to be more than something that accompanies gameplay, striving distinguish itself that much more from the licensed-era forebears ground out by companies trying to capitalize on a console’s present popularity. Here now is a soundtrack seeking to be a cut above what came before, and absolutely succeeding. Interviews: The development team for Demons of Asteborg includes a 3-person core team, consisting of Christophe Reboul, Simon Reboul, and Christopher Rolin, who commissioned additional art and music from an incredibly talented roster as well as the use of existing assets to create protoypes. Though I was not able to connect with everyone involved in this massive project, you can read on below to get acquainted with the many creators I was able to interview. I may have the opportunity to update this post if I receive responses from anyone after I post this. Christophe Reboul Neofid Technology -Before we dive into Demons of Asteborg, I would love to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to become a homebrewer and producer? What is your origin story and the story behind Neofid Technology and Neofid Studios? I had an early passion for video games. I remember exactly what new arcade game I saw and where I saw it. I was captivated by the screens, watching the demos for hours. I read in the magazines of the time the program lines in basic, which I knew the rudiments of even before I touched my first keyboard, that of a ZX 80 when I was 12 years old. I knew by heart all the characteristics of the microcomputers that came out at that time, even the most exotic ones, with few exceptions. I wanted to be a computer scientist to develop games, which I had never done professionally. For many years now, I have been reinvesting a significant part of my turnover in the creation of video games. With DOA, it's a childhood dream that finally came true. Quite literally with these arcade cabinet Kickstarter tiers! -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? I stopped playing video games around the age of 30. At the beginning I had in mind to make an RPG because I keep very good memories of my Zelda games on my SNES, I had made myself a mock-up in JavaScript in 2013. But we also had the arcade game Ghosts 'n Goblins at home which Simon, my son, played a lot. It is finally this last game that was a starting point for DOA. Today, I still pay attention to the games that are released on the retro gaming scene, on the original consoles. I am amazed by the quality of recent or upcoming productions such as Xeno Crisis, Paprium, ZPF... and DOA of course! -In addition to your producing homebrew games, you founded Neofid Technology, which has been celebrated for its web applications and work in customer loyalty software. Do you find your professional work informs your approach to homebrewing, or vice versa? Loyalty is a very different activity from video games. Nevertheless, my double experience as a developer and as a company manager allows me to follow the work of the team while managing the project and its financing with a minimum of realism and efficiency. -You state in your bio on Kickstarter that one of your favorite games was Ghosts ‘n Goblins, which was a strong influence on the design of Demons of Asteborg. What about that game series resonates so strongly with you? My ex-wife-to-be was supposed to give me an engagement ring. She finally preferred to give me a gift, certainly less romantic, but which really corresponded to me: an arcade game. It was Ghosts 'n Goblins. I really like Arthur, the first video game character to end up in his underwear when he touches an enemy. I appreciate the variety of levels, the difficulty of the game and its musical atmosphere. Screenshot from Ghost ‘n Goblins -What was the working dynamic like across the development team and in your collaboration with various artists and developers? How did you first connect with everyone? Two months after the success of our Kickstarter I organized a weekend with Stéphane Dallongeville, the creator of the SGDK, and Fabien Weiss, the designer of our PCB. Afterwards, Simon and Christopher chose the artists and other speakers. On my side, I took in charge the research of the suppliers of the components necessary to the realization of the cartridges. While continuing my work as a consultant to finance the game. -With Demons of Asteborg, you’re working on a game for decades-old hardware. How does producing a game for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive compare to your work developing applications on more modern platforms? Providing a game on cartridges is a very different job from what I was doing before. It was a real challenge. -What is the story behind Demons of Asteborg’s evolution? In 2013 I had a project to develop a pixel art RPG playable in a browser, linked to my loyalty software. The consumer had to be able to play in his city and find the partner merchants. The software was based on OpenStreetMap data. During development we decided to reorient ourselves towards a 3D game which finally became an autonomous project. This resulted in the Caramax'Venture prototype, whose Kickstarter reached €138. We still decided to persevere, and Simon thought it would make sense to develop on the Sega Genesis, as there was an audience, and the platform fit well with our retro-gamer sensibilities. -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in developing Demons of Asteborg? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps? The development took a year longer than expected. We didn't anticipate the amount of work needed to produce the game that really corresponded to our ambitions. Moreover, the financial aspect is determining to develop the game serenely, even beyond the planned deadlines. The money from the Kickstarter and the numerous pre-orders that followed helped us a lot. But it was essential for us to have additional funding. I invite future applicants not to neglect this aspect. -What aspects of Demons of Asteborg are you most proud of? Simon and Christopher have set the bar very high. They have created a real story around the game, the levels are numerous and varied, the graphics are well done, the code exploits the possibilities of the console, and our composers have done a great job. And the best part is that the result works on a console with an 8Mhz processor and 64 Ko RAM. I am very proud of the work done by the team. -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon? Any dream projects? The dream would be that the activity continues and becomes permanent. The developers are already working on a new project that will be presented on Kickstarter, probably in a few months. -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? I had the chance to try Paprium, and I can't wait to play ZPF. Screenshot from Paprium by Watermelon Games -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? Thank you for your interest in Neofid and for contributing to the success of DOA. The feedback from the fans is also very important to us and motivates us to continue. I can't wait to see them again on our next project. Simon Reboul @infitek -Before we dive into Demons of Asteborg, I would love to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to become a homebrewer? What is the origin story of Infitek? I was lucky enough to have a father who introduced me to video game creation at a very young age! At that time I was using Game Maker, I quickly got hooked, now I mostly use other tools. For me, it was mostly a hobby, but with my colleagues, we wanted to see what we could create concretely. -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? Of course I was very much influenced by the classic video games of my childhood, Zelda: A Link to the Past, Castlevania SotN, Donkey Kong Country but also Demon's Crest and Ghosts 'n Goblins! Today I know a little bit more about the indie scene and I'm a big fan of Edmund MacMillen's work (Binding of Isaac, Super Meat Boy) I'm also watching Team Cherry who is currently working on the sequel of Hollow Knight! -How would you describe your design aesthetic, and what to you are the hallmarks of a Simon Reboul game? When I create a game, I try to re-transcribe the emotions I felt when I was a kid discovering a new object in Zelda Link's Awakening or a new area in Ghosts 'n Goblins, after a hard battle against a boss. This feeling of discovery, of exploration, is what I want to bring in each of my games, I think that the player must be constantly surprised by the environment and the mechanics of the game, that he wants to explore these virtual worlds from top to bottom. -What tools do you use to code and create? For the code part, everything is done in C with the SGDK (Sega Genesis Development Kit, created by Stéphane Dallongeville) on Visual Studio Code. We use Aseprite to edit our graphic assets, on the level design side we use Tiled to create each room of the game, then we assemble them with a software that Christopher created in C# with Unity, "DoAMap". Stéphane Dallongeville, creator of SGDK -You mention in your bio on Kickstarter that you practiced designing your own games since you were little. What did those games look like? The oldest ones are obscure platformers without scrolling with Dragon Ball Z characters, or very very amateurish copies of the first Smash Bros. I think I started to get it right in 2015, when I reproduced a draft of the Zelda GB engine, more recently I really enjoyed reproducing the Golden Sun game engine! -In addition to your work developing a homebrew game, you are a developer for Neofid Technology, which has been celebrated for its web applications and work in customer loyalty software. Do you find your professional work informs your approach to homebrewing, or vice versa? The team cohesion that exists at Neofid Technology has really made Demons of Asteborg possible, it is not in any company that you can propose to your boss to start creating Mega Drive games! Moreover we are all passionate about video games here so it's a pleasure to work together. -What was the working dynamic like across the development team and in your collaboration with various artists and developers? How did you first connect with everyone? Christopher and I were really the core of the team, after a few months, Fabien a longtime friend joined us to work on the bosses and finally Stéphane Dallongeville came to give us a hand on the really technical side of the Mega Drive! Concerning our artists, we were looking for them on Fiverr with Christopher, we did a lot of tests before finding the people we wanted to work with. But we are very happy to have met them and we will certainly work with some of them in the future! -With Demons of Asteborg, you’re working on a game for decades-old hardware. How does producing a game for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive compare to your work on more modern platforms? When you work on a hardware from that time, technical limitations are no longer a detail but a set of creative constraints that force us to think about the game differently, today when we use Unity for example, everything is taken for granted, the main character can have 64 colors that won't be a problem, on Mega Drive, every color counts, but that's not all! Tilecount, memory resources, all these elements sometimes force us to lower our ambitions. Fortunately there are many tricks and optimizations possible, but we have to keep these technical constraints in mind all the time. -What is the story behind Demons of Asteborg’s evolution? What inspired this game into existence? What is the significance of the name Asteborg? At the beginning we wanted to make a difficult platform game like Ghosts 'n Goblins, little by little we added some Castlevania but we wanted to keep it edgy. I think after that we really found our own way. I'm going to disappoint you, but "Asteborg" comes from a randomly generated word, we were looking for ideas for the name of our universe and we found something very close to Asteborg, we just changed some letters and that's it! -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in working on the game? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps? As the creation of the game progressed, we realized that the 4MB of the cartridge was not going to be enough. Our password system was also becoming a bit obsolete due to the amount of data we had to save, so we had to implement saves but also a Bank Switch system in order to run a 15MB cartridge on our good old Mega Drive. As far as lessons I've learned: -Never give a specific release date without being fully aware of the workload involved. -Always have someone else test the game, literally everyone plays differently. -There has been a lot of support and enthusiasm for Demons of Asteborg in the leadup to and since its Kickstarter campaign, thanks to the team’s promotional work. How does it feel to see so many people excited to play your game? It's an amazing feeling but it's also a huge stress vector ahah, a lot of people are excited to play the game and we don't want to disappoint them! -What aspects of Demons of Asteborg are you most proud of? Overall we are proud to have succeeded in designing a real Mega Drive game! We are also very proud of our artists who did an excellent job. Personally I'm glad we managed to create all these unique levels and powers that allow you to progress in them! -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon? Any dream projects? We are currently working on two projects, one of which is indeed our dream project! We will communicate about it when the majority of the orders for Demons of Asteborg have been fulfilled. -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? I finally discovered the Homebrew scene quite late but I'm keeping a close eye on Good Boy Galaxy which will be released on GBA, On the Mega Drive side, I'm looking forward to Irena, ZPF and the Cursed Knight! Screenshot from The Cursed Knight -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? Thank you very much for this interview! Stay tuned for more news from the Asteborg Universe! Christopher Rolin @KzoroxR -Before we dive into Demons of Asteborg, I would love to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to become a programmer and art director? What is the origin story of Kzorox? When I was about 7 years old, I dreamed of becoming a "video game designer". I was fascinated by every game I played, and I spent more time contemplating them or trying to do impossible things than actually playing them! My parents had a computer, given to them by a friend. I spent a lot of time on it, even though it annoyed my parents a lot and they would have preferred that I play outside. One of the first things I researched was "How to create Microsoft Windows", I was extremely curious. This growing curiosity pushed me to create many small projects throughout my life. First with RPG Maker, then Game Maker and then with Unity. Eventually I decided to study computer development after high school, and I was hired as a part-time employee at Neofid. That's where my life really started. -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? Of course, I'm very influenced by vintage games, not only by their graphic style but also by their gameplay. It goes from the Amiga to the PlayStation, and of course our good old Mega Drive and Super Nintendo. The technical prowess of these games will always impress me. But being quite young, my main influences are quite recent. My very first console was the Sega Saturn on which I made my first steps on Tomb Raider. Then I got a Nintendo DS and that's when I really started to explore video games. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Dragon Quest, Super Mario 64... A whole bunch of games that rocked my childhood and that influence me a lot in my projects. Today I follow very closely the work of Hello Games which is a studio that I find very inspiring, and more recently the game Goodboy Galaxy which seems very promising. Besides, and like many, I'm waiting for the next games of bigger studios like Bethesda, or Rare. Screenshot from Goodboy Galaxy by Rik and gecko -Do you feel your work has a signature aesthetic that is uniquely you? How would you describe the feel of something you create? I think that when we create a game, we have a very clear idea of what the game should look like, and we don't hesitate to look for a style several times to make it work for us. What we can see in Demons of Asteborg and what we had in mind, it is what we wanted to achieve and what we are, and we hope that it appeals to the largest audience. -What tools do you use to code and create? For Mega Drive games, we use the C language and the SGDK library (Sega Genesis Development Kit). Personally, I use Visual Studio code as IDE because I find it very flexible and pleasant to use. For the level design we used Tiled which is very useful to design maps in pixel art! Of course, we have our own little tools, like DOAMap, which I designed with Unity and which allowed us to translate a Tiled map into Mega Drive code more easily. -In your opinion, what makes good pixel art and game animation stand out? A colorful pixel art, well contrasted, and understandable at first glance is, for me, what makes good pixel art. Sometimes, a few pixels are enough to recognize an object, and this is the great strength of pixel art in my opinion. As far as animations are concerned, fluidity, transitions and feedback are very important to stand out from the rest. -You also worked on level design. What are the necessary ingredients to a well-constructed game level? The hardest thing in level design is to keep a certain coherence between the gameplay and the decorations. Simon spent a lot more time than me creating the platforms and the path to follow, while I spent more time decorating it. For me, a good level design is when the player is pushed to explore an environment that is not too redundant in its graphics, without getting lost, and in which he takes pleasure. -The pixel art you’ve shared on Twitter includes work for the Sega Genesis as well as art for more modern platforms. Do you have a preference creating for a particular platform? Does your process differ when working within a different set of limitations? When we develop on an old console, we have no choice but to do retro pixel art, because the console forces us to. However, when we develop for modern platforms, all these obligations go away, and we can really let our creativity speak. I think I prefer doing games with Unity, even if developing games on old consoles is a lot of fun! Screenshot of pixel art by Christopher Rolin for Caramax Venture -Tell me about your creative process while working on Demons of Asteborg? The creative process of Demons of Asteborg is above all based on inspiration. We choose an atmosphere, we imagine a setting and a story, then we look for references to imitate what we imagine. It takes a lot of time to find the right atmosphere, the right mood that we want the player to feel. -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in developing Demons of Asteborg? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps? The surprises were mainly the limitations of the Mega Drive. When you start developing a game on an old console, you don't know all the tricks to achieve your goals. At the beginning of the development, we were seriously thinking about fitting Demons of Asteborg into a 4MB cartridge. We quickly realized that our ambitions were going to explode the meter to fit into a 16MB cartridge. Fortunately, Stéphane Dallongeville, the creator of the SGDK, was there to help us and advise us throughout the development. My advice would be: surround yourself with the right people! -What aspects of Demons of Asteborg are you most proud of? I am very proud of the effects in Demons of Asteborg. It was a real challenge for all of them and I'm glad we managed to achieve them all. -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon, Sega Genesis or otherwise? Any dream projects? I can't talk too much about it, but we have already started the development sequence for our next game. It's very likely that our old console hasn't run out of steam yet! -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? As said above Goodboy Galaxy on Gameboy Advance seems promising. I'm following very closely ZPF and Irena lately. -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? I enjoyed answering the questions, they are all relevant! Well, I thank our many players for having appreciated our work, it warms our hearts, and for those who have not yet played: do not hesitate to try the adventure! Diego Almeida @di3goalmeida -Before we dive into Demons of Asteborg, I would love to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to become a homebrewer and artist? What is your origin story? Well, I aways loved drawing and art stuff since childhood, my father used to play guitar and my mom likes dramaturgy and cinema a lot. So, they always supported me to become an artist. So later in university, a friend of mine said “Dude, you should work with digital art, you’ll be good on it!” After that, luckily I got an internship in a local game studio from Recife/Brazil and worked there for nine years! Where I could learn a lot about game development. And then try different styles/media, like 3d art, 2d animations, etc. Right now I’m working as pixel artist freelancer for indie companies. -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? I like Mike Azevedo, Caroline Gariba, Alexandre Leoni and a lot of great illustrators around. For animation, I love those movies from Studio Ghibli. And in pixel art, I’ve been following Rafael Françoi on twitter, he is great. Pixel art by Rafael Françoi -Do you feel that your art has any qualities that are uniquely you? How would you describe your aesthetic? Um, I’m not sure. Maybe something related to body proportions or symmetry. I’m a little bit worried about it sometimes hahaha. But something that I’m always looking for, is try to understand what my client wants and find the best way to represent it. And I’m not afraid to redo or modify something, I’m always open for suggestions. -What tools do you use to create your art? Adobe Photoshop for sketching/final art and Aseprite for pixel art and animations. But I also like to create animations in Unity or Adobe Animate as well. -In your opinion, what makes good pixel and game art stand out? A great comprehension of color theory, perspective, and the best use of the animations principles. -The art you’ve shared on Twitter includes work for several games on more modern platforms such as the recently funded Spell Blaster. Do you have a preference creating for a particular platform? Does your process differ when working within a different set of limitations? Yeah, I don’t have a preference for any platform but right now I’m working with some friends on something to mobile. And we’re really excited to see the first impressions. As I said before, I like to use Unity to implement the animations it gives me more possibilities to test and fix the animations into the game project. -Tell me about the development of the art you created for the game, what is your composition process? To be honest, I didn’t create too much art in Demons of Asteborg, most part of the commissions were only for animations. So I used to receive a character design already done, with one or two poses, and then create it’s animations like, idle, attack, damage.. etc. So for the animations, I like to search for references first. And then I try to “divide” the character in layers to animate it’s parts separated. Finally, I check if everything is working well and finish it. -How did you first connect with Neofid Studios? They just sent me an invite through http://Fiverr.com and at first I said I couldn’t because I was busy with other project. But some weeks later I got back to their messages and ask: “Do you guys still need some animations?” Hahaha! And it was great, they’re awesome clients. -What was the working dynamic like in your development of Demons of Asteborg? Well, it was easygoing. They’re very organized and used to send me the characters including their possible animations. So all I needed to do was create its animations and check if they worked well. Sometimes I had to modify some shapes and colors but nothing too hard and I was totally free to give suggestions as well. -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in working on Demons of Asteborg? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps? I had some challenges for sure. Creating animations for big characters like bosses and enemies are difficult for me. Also, those characters had crazy animations that surprised me sometimes. I think one lesson I would like to share is “Find a client that believes in your potential and respects your job”. Neofid team is amazing, totally different from other clients around. -What aspects of Demons of Asteborg are you most proud of? I’m proud to be part of such a nice project like Demons of Asteborg, I always wanted to work on a Metroidvania. Just played this kind of game a lot when I was younger, so it gives me a nostalgic vibe. And the guys from Neofid are very professional, it was a great experience. -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon? Any dream projects? Yeah, for sure. Spell Blaster is getting awesome as well, and I’ve been working on a personal project with some friends, at the same time, we’ll start the user tests as soon as possible. I’m really excited! Screenshot from Spell Blaster by Jump Game Studio -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? Yeah, I can’t wait to check the full version of a game called “Bloodless” from Point N’ Sheep. They’re an indie company from Brazil, and I had the opportunity to create some cool ideas together in a game jam. They’re awesome. -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? Thank you also, Sean! I’m so grateful to know that there are people who admire my work. It’s really cool. Thanks a lot guys, be well and safe. Dillon Willette @grisknuckle -Before we dive into Demons of Asteborg, I would love to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to become a homebrewer and artist? What is your origin story? What is the significance of the name Grisknuckle? I've always been interested in art - my mom has piles of drawings going all the way back to when I was three, four years old. Initially, I got into pixel art when I was 11 or 12 after I discovered a forum called Pixeltendo. Eventually, I drifted away from it for a bit, but I started back up more than a decade later when I realized the community had grown so massively. I've never been one for conventional work, so freelancing just kind of clicked with me. I don't know if I could ever go back - I really enjoy what I do. As for the name, it's unfortunately not too creative, haha. When I was first setting up my account on Fiverr (a freelance service), the username I typically use was taken, so I had to come up with something else. I tend to be really picky about this sort of thing, so it took me a while to figure out. I was watching an interview with George R. R. Martin and when he was asked about how he comes up with names for the characters in his stories, this is what he had to say: "I do know what's been useless to me is the online fantasy name generators. I've tried those a few times, and they say, "Just hit this button and we'll generate 50 fantasy names," and they all turn out to be ‘Grisknuckle’." I thought it was funny, so I went with it, and that's what I've gone by ever since. I've considered rebranding a few times, but at this point, I think it's grown on me. -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? Oh man, this one's tough. I follow so many great artists. Deceiver (@dmitrydeceiver) has been a big one for me, even though I don't spend a ton of time trying to emulate his art. It's so unconventional, but it works, you know? Another one is Arcade Hero (@arcadehero), who actually has a game coming out soon called Bob & Bernard Against The Nazis. Something about their work is so clean - I really hope I can achieve that level of polish one day. Another few I really look up to are Thomas Feichtmeir (@cyangmou), Anokolisa (@Anokolisa) and NOP (@NOP_Pixels). Please check out their work! Pixel art by Dmitry Deceiver -Do you feel that your art has any qualities that are uniquely you? How would you describe your aesthetic? This is actually something I've been working on for a while, but I don't think I'm there quite yet - I'm definitely something of a generalist. Maybe that's what's uniquely me? Haha. I feel like I'm proficient in a variety of different styles, but there isn't one in specific that I stick to for everything. If anything, I strive to make whatever I'm working on look as accurate to the style I'm going for as possible. I'm a serious perfectionist - sometimes to a fault. -What tools do you use to create your art? A keyboard and mouse! Occasionally for larger pieces, I'll sketch something out with a tablet beforehand, but for the most part, I just stick to the basics. -In your opinion, what makes good pixel and game art stand out? Honestly, I think consistency is key. It doesn't matter if your game is super detailed with high-quality effects and lighting, 8-bit, 1-bit, or anything in-between. As long as the art is consistent and clean, you're going to end up with a game that looks really nice. -The art you’ve shared on Twitter includes work geared toward more modern platforms as well as older consoles. Do you have a preference creating for a particular platform? Does your process differ when working within a different set of limitations? I don't think I have much of a preference, really. There's definitely a comfortable, nostalgic feeling that comes with working on projects that are trying to replicate that old-school style and I'll always love that. At the same time though, there's something really exciting about working on a project without any limitations at all, especially in a space as unexplored as modern pixel games currently are. Despite being a callback to the classics of the past, it's really starting to feel like a whole new frontier and something about that gets me really inspired. As far as my process goes, it's very different when working within strict limitations. The whole approach is different, because a lot of the techniques I've developed over the years aren't necessarily applicable under certain sets of rules, especially in regard to things like size and color count. I've always found working with limitations to be a compelling challenge - kind of like trying to solve a puzzle. At times it can be difficult, but when you finally figure it out, it feels so rewarding. Robot by Grisknuckle -Tell me about the development of the art you created for the game, what is your composition process? I worked on a little bit of everything, from the main character to the final boss, as well as tiles, objects, backgrounds, and everything in-between. That being said, my primary focus was enemy design. For most of them, I'd be provided with a brief description of the enemy and where it can be found in the game, and I'd just go from there. For some pieces (especially environments and bosses) I'd start with a larger sketch and build off of that until I had something that worked for both myself and the studio, and then I'd hand-pixel the finer details until it was done. For smaller enemies, characters, and objects, I'd hand-pixel from the start and then tweak it until I felt it was good enough to present. I was given a lot of freedom with many of the designs and I'm honestly really grateful for that. I'd like to think that a lot of my own creature design influences show through in how some of the bosses look, and I'm very satisfied with the outcome. -How did you first connect with Neofid Studios? Initially, we connected through a freelance website called Fiverr - I was commissioned to draw the portraits (the only service I offered at the time) of the main character, which I did. The studio (thankfully) liked my artwork and we continued from there! -What was the working dynamic like in your development of Demons of Asteborg? It was actually a lot more laid-back than I expected. They'd send me a document with everything they were looking for, and as long as I didn't have any follow-up questions, I'd go to work! If I'm being honest, the whole process really confirmed to me that I was making the right decision in regard to my current line of work. Taking into account the aforementioned freedom I was given, how much of my own creativity I was allowed to pour into the final work, and the relaxed and flexible atmosphere of working with Neofid Studios, I knew I was where I wanted to be. -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in working on Demons of Asteborg? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps? Demons of Asteborg is actually the first large-scale game I've worked on. The sheer amount of work was definitely something that took me by surprise, as I was only really used to small-scale projects and individual commission work before that point. If I had any advice to give to someone looking to work on a big game it would probably be: clear your schedule ahead of time. Trying to balance working on such a large project along with other commissions, a second job, or even just regular life stuff is not always as easy as it seems. That being said, it's absolutely worth it, as long as it's something you think you can manage. I wouldn't trade the time I spent working on Demons of Asteborg for anything - it was a truly fulfilling experience. -What aspects of Demons of Asteborg are you most proud of? I'm really proud of some of the bosses, especially the Kraken, Big Bone, and the final boss, Kzorox. They're so big compared to everything else I did for the game, and seeing them in motion in the actual game was pretty mind-blowing for me. I also have a bit of a soft spot for the first boss in the game, the Executioner, as he was actually one of the first things I did for the game after Gareth's initial design. In general, though, I'm proud of the game as a whole. Being involved in such a cool project really was a dream come true for me. -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon? Any dream projects? I'm not currently working on anything major at the moment, though I have been emailing back and forth with Neofid Studios regarding a potential future project, so with luck, an opportunity may present itself there! As for my dream project, it's not really anything special. I think I'd just like to make my own game at some point, which may be easier said than done because I have no idea how to code, haha. I think it'd be interesting to take a step back from the artistic end of things and see what the other side of the fence looks like. -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? I've actually been out of the loop for a bit here - Demons of Asteborg was the homebrew game I was most anticipating (for obvious reasons) until it was recently released. Now that it has, I'm finally starting to look around and see what's out there (and what's on the way). A few games I'm really looking forward to are Witchbrook, Haunted Chocolatier, and Eiyuden Chronicle. The first two are due to my love of Stardew Valley, and the third because it's a spiritual successor to my favorite game series of all time: Suikoden. Haunted Chocolatier by ConcernedApe -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? Your appreciation is mutual! This interview is the first one I've ever done and I think I'll always look back on it as a really significant milestone for me. As for the readers and fans, I'm just really grateful to all of you. I'm still pretty new to doing this professionally and I definitely don't have the biggest following, so it really means the world to me when someone takes the time to check me out. Quenvy Malavé @qamaart -Before we dive into Demons of Asteborg, I would love to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to become a homebrewer and artist? What is your origin story? Hi, my name is Quenvy Malavé (@qamaart); I'm a Professional Pixel Artist from Venezuela. I work as a freelancer making illustrations and animations for different clients, from indie studios to musicians. I create from tilesets and assets to character design and backgrounds, but my best skill, I will say, is Character Animation. Well, those first inspirations came on my first ages watching anime series, like Dragon Ball, Rurouni Kenshin, Saint Seiya, NGE, Cowboy Bebop, Gundam Wing, Trigun, Yu Yu Hakusho, and many more. From there, I started illustrating by myself, trying to replicate those styles -like probably many artists did when they were kids. Then, when I got my first console, the PS ONE, video games started being part of my life, playing games like Mega Man Legends, Crash Bandicoot first Trilogy, CTR, Final Fantasy VII-VIII-IX, MGS 1, Tomba 2, and many others. I spent time seeing their artistic style, dreaming of being part of projects like those. However, here in my country are no studies/careers focused on the game industry, so I studied Graphic Design, which was the closest career to my dream. But I was not completely happy with my selection, even when I was working as a graphic designer, but I continued because, you know, we have to pay the bills and bring the food to the table, haha. But in 2016, I discovered my passion. I found my love for Pixel Art when I heard about Owlboy and its gorgeous art. So I started searching more about it and how to try it on my old computer - I probably still have that first-pixel illustration on Instagram. But I didn't start working as Pixel Artist until 2019 when I got my first commission from the team of Sons of Valhalla. After that, I have been working so hard -like a maniac, haha, to live making what I love: pixel art for video games. -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? As I mentioned, many anime series and movies, and video games influenced me, even now. But when it is about Pixel Art, games like Owlboy, Hyper Light Drifter, Enter the Gungeon, FEZ, Blasphemous, Katana Zero, Moon Lighter, Wargroover, Pathway, and Children of Morta inspire me a lot, even those old games like The King of Fighters 2003, Metal Slug, Street Fighter III, and Guilty Gear XX which styles stay fresh even these days. Artists like Paul Robertson (@probzz), Yur Gus (@yg_fool), Simon S. Andersen (@snakepixel), Gyhyom (@gyhyom), and a special one is Mark Ferrari (@Mawkyman), from I recommend watching his GDC talk on YouTube. Those are my first inspiration for pixel art. -Do you feel that your art has any qualities that are uniquely you? How would you describe your aesthetic? I'm always looking to make characters dynamic and exciting to watch, make them look cool even in those little details. I'm always looking to get fluency and solid and visual-communicative poses when it is about animation. It's what I keep as a priority. Bring creative solutions for any movement it's important too, to avoid creating something simplistic, without personality. Oh, and using violet-purple-based palette colors is part of my aesthetic too and is part of my signature already, haha. -What about animation resonates so strongly with you as opposed to more static pixel art? Animating a character could tell you even more about it without using too many words, and that is magical. You can know its personality by watching how it is walking, jumping, casting a spell, or even just drinking water. -What tools do you use to create your art? My primary tool for character design and animation is Aseprite. It's the one that I use every day. Then, other tools are like Pyxel Edit when it is about making tilesets, and recently, I'm adding Pixaki and its flexibility of making pixel art anywhere. -In your opinion, what makes good game art and animation stand out? I think that is making all with passion and hard work. Do not choose a game art style just because it is "easy to do" or it is the trend now. Choose it because you know you will be passionate about making those arts, so much that you will push more of you to get better and bring authentic pieces. Look at examples like D-Pad Studio with Owlboy, Studio MDHR with Cuphead, and even Arc System Works with Guilty Gear and Dragon Ball Fighter Z, to mention a few. -The art you've shared on Twitter and your YouTube channel includes work for several games on more modern platforms such as Sons of Valhalla. Do you have a preference creating for a particular platform? Does your process differ when working within a different set of limitations? I think that all processes should be adaptive when it is about limitations, especially for Pixel Art. Thanks to the advanced tools and platforms that we have now, I like working on those that don't have limitations; that way, you can create new ways of making things and push even further the possibilities of the Pixel Art. But when you work for platforms like the Sega Mega Drive Genesis, you have to be creative to get excellent results despite the console restrictions, and that gives you an evolution in your skills. Screenshot from Sons of Valhalla by Pixel Chest -Tell me about the development of the art you created for the game; what is your composition process? It all depends on whether the piece is for my portfolio or a client. When it's for me and my portfolio or content, I always search for inspiration on creative platforms like Pinterest or ArtStation, or sometimes I'm just washing dishes, and an idea comes to me hehe, then I go to find a couple of references and start sketching directly on Aseprite or Pixaki. When I finish, I usually mimic -for real, how this character will perform any action; even if they are weird creatures, you will see me trying to imitate it XD. When it's for clients, the process is the same. Still, before starting, I ask many questions about style and specific details for the requests. Sometimes I do not design, just animate characters that they already have, so I jump to the mimic process after answering questions. -How did you first connect with Neofid Studios? They commissioned me for some basic animations for the first version of Gareth, which you can see on their Kickstarter campaign. Then, after switching to the new DoA's aesthetic, they contacted me again to redo the animations and make some enemies and bosses work too. -What was the working dynamic like in your development of Demons of Asteborg? Same as the one explained before: They sent me some characters designed by Dillon Willette (@Grisknuckle), the animations they wanted, and some specs about them, and done, I started working on the animation ideas. -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in working on Demons of Asteborg? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps? Wow! Too much responsibility here, haha. I'm still learning, discovering new things every day, but what I learned working on DoA was to be fully adaptive, not only for the limitations of the platforms but also to adapt my process for making animations of a piece from other artists. As an animator, you will not always design for too, so you must be prepared for that. -What aspects of Demons of Asteborg are you most proud of? Making the animations of the main character Gareth is definitely a conquest for me, but those that I made for their enemy bosses of the game are the ones that I must be proud of because they were my first big-character animations, and in Pixel Art, that is challenging. -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon? Any dream projects? I will fall into the cliche that making my own game is my dream project, haha. I'm learning to code to bring some ideas that I have. I hope to work on them soon. There are other couples of projects with some studios that are in the oven, still in process. I hope that you hear about them near in the future. -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? Sons of Valhalla is the one that I'm excited to see released. To play what the team has been creating these years, which looks fun and fabulous, and see those characters I designed and animated on the action. I also want to play Demons of Asteborg, of course, but I need to find some time for it; I spend most of my time working, hehe. -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? I will quote a phrase from Mark Ferrari (@Mawkyman) that I have in my desktop background, which is: "Enjoy the freedom of doing 8-bit art in an age it doesn't need 8-bit art... just want it." Oh! and go a-pixel-a day (a way to say that don't be so hard with yourself, each small work made each day it's a step to your goals ;)). Rasamimanana Cyril @Cyrasa3D -Before we dive into Demons of Asteborg, I would love to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to become a homebrewer and artist? What is your origin story? I just liked drawing during lessons, from middle school to high school, because lessons were boring, my scores were fair, but I regret having this attitude. I studied computer science with a 3D branch at an IT, learning how to not like coding and once I was able to do some 3D, was kinda unsatisfied with the work asked. Following with a professional license in architecture, alternating work at a company, which was a great experience. So I ended up working as a cashier and tried to pass an exam for ENJMIN university for video games, while honing my skills during my free time, I failed the first entry… But during the first year, I was able to do an internship at Neofid Studios, beginning with the famous tunnel level, and they allowed me to help create more content for Demons of Asteborg. So I proceeded with boulders in the sewer, some spikes, and after that Boss sprites…. -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? Dead Cells is definitively the one who permitted me to think it was possible to create pixel art with 3D models. But generally I don’t have any influences, but I admit there are peoples who puts stars in my eyes such as @SparrowLucero, @FelixColgrave and @Jnoel150 for the 2D art, and @sakuramochiJP for the outstanding technicity put in the characters. Screenshot from Dead Cells by Motion Twin -Do you feel that your art has any qualities that are uniquely you? How would you describe your aesthetic? No, I’m still too fresh to even pretend my aesthetic is unique. For now I prefer to create content that is faithful to the source material and style, and useable for video games. -What tools do you use to create your art? Blender, Substance Painter, Clip Studio Paint, Photoshop and Aseprite. -In your opinion, what makes good pixel and game art stand out? Sharpness and a colorful palette. -Additionally, your specialty is 3D modeling. What inspired you to work in 3D design? Video Games mostly enticed me to do 3D modeling. When I first learned, it was so fun to create something ugly and uncanny and see it working. It’s as if I was doing Lego in childhood but without the physical pain. Now it is mental. -The art you’ve shared on Twitter includes work geared toward more modern platforms as well as older consoles. Do you have a preference creating for a particular platform? Does your process differ when working within a different set of limitations? No clearly, if it is possible for me to use 3D to get a good result I don’t care about the support, as long as the style suits my tastes. And yes, my process depends on the result I must produce. When you produce 3D models in order to render sprite, you almost work first with the materials and then adapt the model shapes to get a satisfying result, the sprite size influence the 3D, being less organic and simpler as the resolution is smaller, and harder to rely on 3D software. -Tell me about the development of the art you created for the game, what is your composition process? First, modeling, the easy part. I create first a light source, and then a material in which a certain range of color is shown depending on the intensity of the light on the surface area of the 3D object. A constant gradient is necessary to render clean image in low resolution, while keeping as less color as possible to edit on Aseprite and applying indexed color. You play a lot with the light source and the gradient color to get the best result At the end, I edit it on Aseprite to refine it, and respect some rules to feel more pixel-art. -How did you first connect with Neofid Studios? Aurelia Sanchez, a person I can’t ever thank enough for getting me an internship among them. -What was the working dynamic like in your development of Demons of Asteborg? It was mostly to produce a sprite and then refine it until we come to an agreement. Pretty simple and cool process. -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in working on Demons of Asteborg? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps? The Tunnel Level was the trickiest part, it was mainly material and textures work, a thing I wasn’t good at all. To make abstract and procedural patterns both good and visible, with palette limitation and symmetry was the hardest challenge. -Was integrating your 3D objects into the game alongside other artists’ 2D art a challenge or did everything seem to fall neatly into place? It was mostly a challenge, I mean the bosses hands were painful to model, animate and render and yet my most prized results. But you can easily guess they are 3D. -What aspects of Demons of Asteborg are you most proud of? Progression: the pace is good, each level must have a good balance between fight and platform, and the boss fights are a good way to conclude the level. -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon? Any dream projects? Working on a successful game, from start to end. -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? No. -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? Most of the time I felt like I wasn’t qualified or worthy for the tasks I accepted, but fuck I craved so much to work in this domain I couldn’t bring myself to give up. Veli’ @VeliTheTunes -Before we dive into Demons of Asteborg, I would love to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to become a homebrewer and artist? What is your origin story? I always wanted to make games as a kid. Or at least work in the game sphere. So I went and studied IT, then was invited to work in a small startup as a game designer. Then when we had to decide our next project’s visual style. We a solution that would allow us to run it on any phone, so decision was made to make it in pixel art style. So I went on and researched it, started studying and trying drawing. Half a year later I left that studio but kept studying and drawing. A few years later here I am -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? My main inspiration is Tsutomu Nihei, author of manga series such as BLAME, Biomega, Knights of Sidonia. And right now I'm closely following this guy https://twitter.com/Latimeriaa. I'm not sure what his name is, but he does amazing figures and models. Tsutomu Nihei -Do you feel that your art has any qualities that are uniquely you? How would you describe your aesthetic? I guess? Since I'm quite bad at drawing I'm trying to overcompensate it with technique and polish. I think? Not sure, it’s hard to talk about my own style. -What tools do you use to create your art? Photoshop. Used to be a big GIMP fan, but the moment I had to deal with animation I cursed that software and never came back -In your opinion, what makes good pixel and game art stand out? Good art direction. If you know why you are using pixel art, how to use it properly, your game will look great. Doesn’t matter if it’s a very primitive or technical kind of pixel art. -The art you’ve shared on Twitter includes spites and animation for more modern platforms. Do you have a preference creating for a particular platform? Does your process differ when working within a different set of limitations? I like modern platforms, because I can make up my own palette and choose colors that help me get the feel of the image that I'm going for. But that’s when I'm working on my personal art/project. When working for hire, I have no real preference I think? Well maybe NES is my least favorite due to its palette. I'm really bad at using it hehe. Other than that, can’t think of anything. And no, process is pretty much the same, doesn’t matter what I'm doing, I'm always working with some kind of restrictions. -Tell me about the development of the assets you created for Demons of Asteborg, what is your composition process? Honestly, there is nothing interesting about that process I was just given very specific instructions of how animations had to look, sometimes with videos or gifs as references. And then I just drew it haha, what else can I say -How did you first connect with Neofid Studios? They found me on twitter, were really nice to me, offered a job, I agreed. That’s the story -What was the working dynamic like in your development of Demons of Asteborg? I'm not quite sure what this question means:) Was it nice working with Neofid Studios? Sure. One of the best experiences I had as an artist for hire. It was very easy to communicate with them, they explained what they wanted from me very well. I had a great time with them, I hope they did too with me -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in working on Demons of Asteborg? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps? I haven't working in this visual style before, so getting used to it was a bit of a challenge. I wasn’t sure if I would pick it up at first, but after a few animations, I got used to it and it was smooth sailing after that. -What aspects of Demons of Asteborg are you most proud of? That it came out haha:) Guys are beasts, did a great job with this game and survived till release. That’s quite a feat, I'm telling you. I've seen too many projects die in development hell before -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon? Any dream projects? Nothing I can talk about sadly! Conclusion: Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the series that provides deep dives into the latest and greatest homebrew games coming across the finish line. What are your thoughts on Demons of Asteborg and its talented development team? What homebrews are you eagerly looking forward to? Perhaps you’ll see it here soon when…A Homebrew Draws Near! Command?
  19. A Homebrew Draws Near! A blog series by @Scrobins Episode 19: Montezuma’s Revenge Introduction: Many of the stories behind the homebrew games shared here began years before their publication or even any real development, like Trophy by Gradual Games. Some celebrated homebrews are ports of beloved games from another time, like Ultimate Frogger Champion, among several of KHAN Games’ works. And sometimes these two narratives come together as a game with a long history is revisited and ported to a new console, with the blessing and oversight of its original creator, eager to keep its legend alive and fulfill a dream of bringing that game to the NES, a goal that has persisted for decades. For this entry, I’m sharing a sneak peek into the NES port of an old Atari classic, a platformer and proto-Metroidvania: Montezuma’s Revenge. As of the time of this writing, the game’s development nears completion through its original designer Robert Jaeger and his company Normal Distribution, with plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in December 2021 through its publisher Second Dimension. As a result, this episode will be another mini-post focusing on the interviews with the development team to whet our appetities. Development Team: Robert Jaeger: project management Felipe Reinaud: programming @dra600n(Adam Welch): publication & distribution OG Atari Artwork Game Evolution: Montezuma’s Revenge’s story begins back in 1983, when then-16-year old Robert Jaeger’s friend Mark Sunshine suggested Jaeger make a game with a Meso-American theme and call it Montezuma's Revenge, another name for what is commonly known as traveler’s diarrhea. Working day and night to program the game for the Atari 800, Jaeger and his dad showed off the finished game at their booth for Robert’s company Utopia Software at the 1983 (or possibly 1984) Consumer Electronics Show, attracting the attention of Parker Brothers. Although the original Atari 800 game took up 48k of memory, Parker Brothers wanted to reduce costs and fit the game onto disks and cartridges so they could release Montezuma’s Revenge for the Atari 800 as well as the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, ColecoVision, Apple II, Commodore 64, IBM PC, and Atari 8-bit computers. As a result, the officially released game was squeezed down to 16k. One known casualty of the trimming was an unfinished (and unwinnable) boss fight against a huge Emperor Montezuma who would stomp on you. Teaser image of NES edition Gameplay Overview: Montezuma’s Revenge is a platformer with Metroidvania qualities before either of those games existed. You control Panama Joe (a/k/a Pedro), an explorer inside the subterranean labyrinth of Aztec emperor Montezuma II’s pyramid. Your goal is to collect jewels and defeat the enemies who stand in your way. You must overcome the traps and obstacles meant to keep people like you out, while you seek the keys and equipment that will allow you to venture ever deeper into the treacherous maze. Interviews: For real insights into the game as it nears completion, I interviewed the NES port’s development team to get all the stories… Robert Jaeger -Before we dive into Montezuma’s Revenge, I would love to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to become a game developer? Hi. Thanks for the interview. I was inspired by the 1st and 2nd generation of coin-op video games. I was an arcade kid from a very early age, starting with pinball, and by the time I was 11 (1978, Space Invaders) I knew for certain that I wanted to be a game developer. My first computer system was the Bally Astrocade. I started with Bally Basic, then z-80, then the 6502 with the Atari 800 computer. I also coded for the c64, Amiga, PC and others. -What is your origin story? What is the significance of the name Normal Distribution for you? Ah, this is a terrible name for a game developer. I don't think I've ever told this story. My software career has been split between games and fintech. Originally I was working on a "black-box" hedge fund trading system for stock options based on random number math, hence the name. The company is 100% games now. -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? From the old days my influences were Bill Budge, Nasir Gebelli, later John Carmack. As far as games now I'm personally most interested in what's going on in VR because the headset has finally become affordable. There are individuals creating revolutionary products right now in the VR space. Bill Budge, he’s a pinball wizard, there has got to be a twist -What tools do you use to code and create? I'm very much a C++ guy these days. I haven't coded 6502 in decades. The rebooted cross-platform version of Montezuma (Steam, PC, iOS, Mac, Android) is based on open source Cocos2dx. For cross dev't I use many different compilers, but Microsoft tools have always been my favorite. -Montezuma’s Revenge was originally released in 1984. What inspired development of an NES port now? Felipe Reinaud is a very talented programmer and a huge fan of the game. He came to me with the proposal. I have always been very protective of the brand and I was very reluctant to proceed, but he proved his talent to me and wound up doing an outstanding job. NES Montezuma is a beautiful game. -Tell me about your creative process for designing and programming the game. What lessons can you share to others who want to learn to make their own games? It's hard to describe my creative process for games. Other than arcade game clones, every game product I've been involved with has evolved from what was a basic original idea. Technical discoveries and limitations frequently drive the development. One lesson is that if you want to create games, create games now! We have amazing free tools out there. Nothing should stop anyone from creating a great demo. The game dev't business is very difficult and competitive. If you love to code in general, other areas of computer programming are less difficult and more lucrative. -Do you feel that Montezuma’s Revenge has any qualities that are quintessentially you? How would you describe your aesthetic? OK, I love to play all kinds of games but I think I'd like to be known for games with good graphics and technology, some humor, difficult, only cartoony violence but most of all - FUN. In Electronics Games Magazine Bill Kunkle noted in 1984 that "Everything is big" which was exactly what I was going for. For its time, Montezuma had a big hero and big enemies. -Ever since my first blog episode, M-Tee planted this idea in my mind that a game’s protagonist serves as both the player's point of immersion in the game as well as a reflection of its designer. What was the intention behind the design of Panama Joe, and do you feel he reflects you in any way? The hero's original name was "Pedro" from the 1983 demo, and we're going forward with this name. Pedro should be thought of as a Robin Hood type character - he most certainly will use those gems to help all of mankind! I recently told the true origin of Pedro: He actually was a gringo tourist who drank too much tequila and spent too much in the gift shop and then got lost. Montezuma is not a serious game - it's light-hearted good fun created by a game developer who, like Alan Watts, sometimes questions the seriousness of life itself. -What challenges or surprises surfaced in developing Montezuma’s Revenge? What new challenges emerged in porting it to the NES? There are many challenges specific to NES programming. Felipe had a difficult time squeezing Montezuma into a standard NES cartridge. -Parker Brothers trimmed down the original game to maximize marketing potential and limit piracy. Is the NES port closer to the original 16K Parker Brothers release or your original 48K version? This NES version will most closely resemble the other production versions, but rooms are a little different mainly due to how the NES handles character graphics. It's the game as it would have been if released as an NES game of the time. -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon, NES or otherwise? Any dream projects? Collaborations? Plans to port Chomper or Pinhead to the NES? The original game demo also had an incomplete boss. We are currently working on another retro cartridge project for Atari computers which will be the "Director's Cut" - the original full vision, complete with boss challenges based on my original source code. The undefeatable King Montezuma boss left out of the original release Also, there are now free ad-supported versions "Montezuma's Revenge LITE" for mobile systems. We are continuing to improve the full rebooted versions available now for most computers and mobile devices. -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? No, I don't follow the homebrew community as well as I should. -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? I always thank the fans for keeping the game alive and really keeping my enthusiasm up. If you're interested in following the project, I tend to update first on https://www.facebook.com/MontezumasRevengeGame. If you want first crack at the NES version campaign when it's ready, please join the list at https://normaldistribution.com/nes-cartridge-contact-list/ Download links for the reboot: https://normaldistribution.com/download/ Thanks! Felipe Renaud @DarkKodKod -Before we dive into Montezuma’s Revenge, I would love to talk about you and your background. What first inspired you to become a homebrewer? What is your origin story? What inspired me most to become a homebrewer was the work of Michael Chiaramonte https://www.youtube.com/c/MichaelChiaramonte. I saw that many amazing games were being made by normal people just like me. You didn't need talent or a huge background to start making your own game. However, it takes time to have something fun and playable and even longer to have an actual game to publish. I now have a nice collection of homebrew games like Eyra, Rollie, Nebs ‘n Debs, Lizard, etc. Those games are my real inspiration. It all started when I was a child and I played the Atari and later I got my very first game console, the NES. My dream back then was to become a game programmer one day and as a kid who grew up in Chile - it was like wanting to be an astronaut. Years later after finishing my degree in Computer Science, I had the opportunity to join the very first video game studio in Chile. Later, I worked on different consoles like the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and PC. I started learning and working on Banana Kong for Android and later porting it to iOS. Long story short, I eventually got hired at a company in Hamburg, Germany, and later I moved to Dusseldorf to work at Ubisoft where currently I am right now. Since I always wanted to make my own game, I decided one day that I would make a NES game. People were doing it - I knew I could do it too. I am really bad at designing games, so I thought of making a port of a well-known game for the old NES. I came up with the idea of porting one of the games I played as a child back when I played it on the Atari and the first game that came to my mind was Montezuma’s Revenge. That game in Chile was as important for Atari as Super Mario was for Nintendo. I reached Robert Jaeger on Facebook and after presenting myself and proving that I'm up to the challenge, we started working together on Montezuma’s Revenge, first for the Android and PC version and later on the NES version. -Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now? Of course it is Robert Jaeger who made Montezuma’s Revenge for the Atari, that game is a masterpiece for its era. The only person I'm watching closely now is Michael Chiaramonte and his work on his own homebrew on his channel. Michael Chiaramonte being not so randomly random -How would you describe your design aesthetic, and what to you are the hallmarks of a game made by you? The game is a straight port, I didn't really change any aesthetic and that's totally fine. The idea is to make the game as close as possible to the original as if it were an early Nintendo game. It is using a NROM board, so only 40k of memory is available to fit the entire 9 pyramids of 100 rooms each plus new music. There were compromises and some design changes to fit into the NES aspect ratio and memory limitations. Let's say that games are designed based on the hardware they are running on. For Montezuma’s Revenge, it is making the best use of the Atari hardware and I had to translate that into what is capable of, the original Nintendo. For example if you are making a game for the NES, it is better to have all the background tiles designed to be 16 by 16 pixels like Super Mario Bros did. But for this game I could not do it that way because the game is expected to collide with 8x8 pixel tiles so I had to use more memory than I would normally use. I had to cut a little on some features as well, things that I wouldn’t have used if the game was designed initially for the NES. So hardware is a huge influence on the design aesthetic of a game and even though this is a straight port this was no exception. A nice feature of this game is even though I’m using a really limited board like the NROM, it doesn't use any fancy additional chip to animate tiles. I am updating multiple background tiles not all at the same time, but it sure seems like it and it looks close to the original and it feels like the original why you play it. -What tools do you use to code and create? I used Visual Studio Code with the extension Beeb VSC so it can color code a bit the source files and also adds the ability to press F7 to assemble and F9 to run. I use the tasks.json file on VS Code to run a bunch of tasks one after another from creating a folder to generate the .nes file and run it on the emulator. For assets I use my own tool created with WPF and C#. Here is the git repo if someone is interested, https://github.com/DarkKodKod/NESTool. The idea was to have a generic asset tool independent from any particular game so I used that to handle and convert the images into animated sprites, backgrounds and banks for the pattern tables. -In addition to your homebrewing, you are programmer by profession. In what ways is your professional work similar to or different compared to your indie/homebrew work? Developing software is always the same, no matter if it is business-oriented software or a game or a game for a 40 years old machine. You have to have a design, a plan and write clean code for everybody to understand - even if you were writing this code yourself and nobody else will look at it. By keeping everything tidy you are doing yourself a favor because the project could last years depending on how much time you put into it. The code you wrote maybe two years ago is going to be really difficult to modify or understand the purpose if it is not well organized and documented. -Do you find your professional work informs your approach to homebrewing, or vice versa? Yes, I think so. I have more than 15 years of experience working with different game engines, some are homemade and some are well established in the video game industry. I learnt how to structure and build a game from scratch and additionally working with talented people you get to learn good practices as well. So I wanted to create a good working environment and put in place good practices as much as possible. So even if you are working on your own project alone, it is good and you will thank yourself later in the project lifetime when you need to restructure something or read code you have written a year ago and having all clean and well-structured will make a huge difference overall. -Some of the other games you’ve worked on include Alpha Assault, Banana Kong, and the Thrill Rush games for more modern platforms. Do you have a preference creating for a particular platform? Does your process differ when working within a different set of limitations? Working for a game console like the Xbox 360 or the Nintendo Wii was ideal because you know the hardware won't change and you can have the same result on every machine. For example, working for a game on Android, there are thousands of different hardware and software combinations that can make the game fail for some unknown reason. If you don't have that particular version of the hardware it is going to be difficult to test and see what is wrong with the game. PC games are a bit similar with different graphics cards for example. I know this argument is not valid if you are using a well-used game engine like Unity3d or Unreal but, I enjoy game development the most when I'm doing everything myself like I used to do it before those engines were a thing. Screenshot from Banana Kong by FDG Entertainment And in terms of limitations, of course it also makes it different to work with something as big as a PC game or really small as a NES game. I have experience working with limited RAM space on the Nintendo Wii and even smaller for the Nintendo 3DS. It is fun though having more constraints to the work because it is when you have to be creative and come up with optimal solutions for the product you are making. It doesn't feel the same when you have all the resources of the world, it is not that exciting for me in particular. -Had you played Montezuma’s Revenge on the Atari before? Of course. I'm 40 years old and in my childhood, a lot of kids had the Atari. I never had one for myself but I went to friends and family to play and of course everybody had a copy of Montezuma’s Revenge. My very first game console was the Nintendo Entertainment System. -What was the working dynamic like in the development of Montezuma’s Revenge for the NES? I had a plan for what to do for the entire year and I was working on one thing at a time. I tested on the emulator, Mesen, and later in my AVS. It was just me and the computer. Nothing fancy. -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in working on the game? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps? I hit the wall multiple times and for me everything was a learning experience. How to organize the code was a challenge because there is nothing on the Internet to help you out with that. I came up with my own way of structuring the files, methods and variables. Because the game is using only 40k of memory, the biggest challenge was to properly scale down the game and fit 9 levels with 100 rooms each plus a music engine and music. Because of the constraints of the memory I could not use a music engine from someone else, I had to write my own and my own format music for it. It wasn't that bad and at the end I enjoyed the process. For example the 3 music tracks are stored inside the CHR ROM alongside with the sprites. Speaking of the music, all my maps are compressed using Run Length Encoding (RLE), and the time to decompress the map was taking too long and it made the music run slow while changing rooms. I had to decompress and load the maps in multiple frames and keep the transition between rooms fast enough to not affect the game experience. Another challenge was the tile animations. NROM has no built-in tech to handle background animation and Montezuma’s Revenge is heavy in background animation like the fire or conveyor belts, etc. So I came up with a tile animation system that can update multiple tiles on different frames. The important part here is the correct separation between the main thread and the code that runs in the NMI. The challenge was to make the NMI code really efficient and send commands to the NMI to run the specific code only when it was needed. -Montezuma’s Revenge is an iconic game with a longstanding fanbase. How does it feel to work on a game with such a deep history? I’m really proud. This game is an icon in my country, Chile. If you talk about Atari, you have to talk about Montezuma’s Revenge. I played it when I was a child and I never dreamed one day to be part of its history. -What aspects of Montezuma’s Revenge are you most proud of? I started knowing nothing about 6502 assembly nor how to make a game for the NES. So I'm really proud of having a game and releasing it. Actually releasing a game is the most difficult part of game development, because it has to be perfect when it has to come out of the door. -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon? Any dream projects? Not now. Having a side project can eat up a lot of your time but I would like to do something for the SNES or maybe a bigger NES game but now I have nothing in mind. -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play? Not at the moment. -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? If you would like to start developing your own game, start small and always reach out to the NESDev community, they are super friendly and supportive. Adam Welch @alteredimension -Before we dive into Montezuma’s Revenge, let’s catch up! How have you been since we talked about Curse of Illmoore Bay and Eyra-The Crow Maiden? Good! Just been busy plugging away at code and getting ready to start releasing the 16-bit versions of Eyra. -Between your Twitter and Discord, there are so many brewers who are either using Second Dimension to create physical releases of their games (like the upcoming Fire and Rescue), or are using SecondBASIC Studio to create their games. How does it feel to be one of the go-to people for the development and release of homebrew games? It’s really cool! I love seeing these projects that people are working on and happy to see them being able to release their own stuff the way the want to. Screenshot from Fire & Rescue by Skyboy Games -How did you first connect with Rob Jaeger/Normal Distribution? Ha! So funny story. I got an email sometime back in April or early May asking if I would be interested in potentially publishing the NES version of Montezuma’s Revenge. Now, being one of the games my friends and I played a lot of, I thought this would be a cool opportunity. I didn’t even look to see who sent me the email. I went out to Normal Distribution’s website, contacted Rob about someone asking me about publishing an NES version or Monte, and seeing if he had given the “okay” on it, etc. Turns out, he’s the one who originally emailed me. Boy did I feel silly. -Had you previously played Montezuma’s Revenge on any of the consoles for which it was original released, or the Master System port? Back in the 4th grade, our teacher had an Apple LE II in our classroom. If you did good in class, he would let you play games on it, and he had Montezuma. My friend and I tried to play that game as much as we could back then, but we never knew how far we were into the game – plus we only had maybe 15 – 20 minutes to play when we were able. -What was the working dynamic like in your collaboration with Normal Distribution? Rob is very down to earth, very focused, and is very willing to listen to what you have to say. It’s been a great experience so far, and I hope to learn as much as I can from him. -What does it mean to you that the creator of an iconic game from the Atari-era came to you for help publishing the NES port of the game? It’s surreal. It’s kind of like getting to play catch with your favorite ball player, or have a jam session with your favorite artist. Montezuma’s was definitely a childhood favorite that holds a lot of happy memories, so it’s pretty wild to get the opportunity to lend a hand with a game with such history. -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in working on Montezuma’s Revenge from a publication perspective? So far nothing new has popped up. My process is pretty solid, so there’s minimal concern there. It’s really just making sure everything falls into place and any bumps we hit, we just do what we need to in order to press onward. -You’ve told me there will be a Kickstarter campaign for Montezuma’s Revenge. Do you have a date, specific or relative that we can write on our calendars? We’re aiming for December to launch the campaign. -You recently shared a poll on Twitter to see what game fans were most looking forward to next: Affinity Sorrow and Curse of Illmoore Bay 2. Any news you would like to share about either? Affinity Sorrow won the poll, so we’ve been working on that – well, Jav mainly has since I’m finishing up Eyra MD. Lots of content is being created, so we’ll be also working on a campaign for that as well, but we’re not 100% sure of the timeline just yet. Soon, though. Affinity Sorrow vs. Curse of Illmoore Bay 2: This Time it’s Ill-more! -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! This wouldn’t be possible without our fans – and we appreciate every one of you Conclusion: Thanks for tuning in to this latest mini-sode of the series that shares sneak peeks into the latest homebrew games and the folks who bring them into the world. What are your thoughts on Montezuma’s Revenge, its talented development team, and its legacy? What homebrews are you eagerly looking forward to? Perhaps you’ll see it here soon when…A Homebrew Draws Near! Command?
  20. This episode features Witch n' Wiz, a homebrew for the NES. Witch n' Wiz is a puzzle adventure game, where you take control of a Witch who is going to rescue her friend, the Wizard. Her friend was taken away from this world and is trapped. Solve the puzzles and battle the evil boss to save your friend. Developer, @matthughson , joins for a long play commentary and interview. Witch n' Wiz is available digitally, physically (through LRG), and on pie packer. https://mhughson.itch.io/witch-n-wiz Video: podcast: https://anchor.fm/deadeye-bit/episodes/HiF-010---Witch-n-Wiz-e1aq2uv
  21. I'm almost finished with Anguna Zero, a NES port of my Atari port of my Gameboy Advance game Anguna. It's a fairly direct port from the Atari, so it features the world, enemies, and layout of the Atari game, with improved graphics, and music from Thomas Cippolone. The game is mostly finished, and we're doing testing now. Hopefully will be released soon!
  22. Make The 6502 Collective Your Holiday Homebrew Headquarters This Year! With Lizard, Trophy, Rollie and Anguna: Scourge of the Goblin King NES cartridges, you can give your loved ones the gift of #8BitLegit games for your Nintendo Entertainment System. GET NES CARTRIDGES HERE ==>https://6502collective.com/store DIGITAL VERSIONS ALSO AVAILABLE ON ==>https://itch.io
  23. A Homebrew Draws Near! A blog series by @Scrobins Episode 18: Chumlee’s Adventure: The Quest for Pinky Introduction: There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? Modern icons of pop culture and homebrews, coming together. Commissioned. Official. Licensed. Where first, barely a year ago there was Jay & Silent Bob: Mall Brawl, another game pushes the floodgates open a little further, with the dev team announcing yet another licensed homebrew coming in its wake. No longer a one-off happenstance, we are witnessing a change in era within the homebrew world. Let the good times roll. For this entry, I’m covering Chumlee’s Adventure: The Quest for Pinky, a beat 'em up adventure game for the NES, starring the cast of Pawn Stars, and developed by KHAN Games, Peek-A-Brews!, and humanthomas. As of the time of this writing, Kickstarter backers have received their goodies, and the physical game is still available here through the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. CIB? Best I can do is...a million dollars Development Team: @KHAN Games(Kevin Hanley): programming @Peek-A-Brews!(Jon Piornack): graphical art @humanthomas(Thomas Cipollone): music Blurry Sprites (Richard Lecce & Mike Long): funding Chumlee (Austin Russell): inspiration Game Evolution: The emergence of Chumlee’s Adventure started with a trickle and slowly grew to a stream. During his annual NES Spectrum Marathon, a 50+ hour gaming marathon which raises money for the Organization for Autism Research every September, Kevin hinted at a special project he was commissioned to develop that he couldn’t talk about just yet. (It just so happens this year’s marathon is happening this weekend, so tune in on Twitch!) A fun event that I look forward to tuning into each year On December 14, 2020, Kevin tweeted a gif of a bearded, sunglass-wearing dude jump kicking the “kick” into Kickstarter, followed by the date “December 28” as a little pupper wandered in. On December 28, 2020, the latest episode of Pawn Stars aired, featuring a customer who brought in an M82 unit (NES demo kiosk) that just happened to house a few of Kevin’s games inside. The episode’s narrative shows Chumlee inspired to make a game of his own after learning about the existence of the homebrew community, and from there Chumlee’s Adventure begins to take shape, much to the amusement of his friends and coworkers at the store. Concurrent with the episode’s airing, Kevin launched the Kickstarter. Within 19 hours, Chumlee’s Adventure reached its initial funding goal, ultimately receiving more than $29,000 from 350 supporters. Backer tiers included a Chumlee keychain, a Chumlee shirt, a game rom, and four different colored CIB editions such as a Blue CIB, a Green CIB with t-shirt and keychain limited to 150 copies, an orange CIB with t-shirt and keychain limited to 75 copies, and a Yellow CIB autographed by Chumlee with laser-etched numbering on the cartridge plus the t-shirt, sticker, and special keychain. The first teaser…what could it beeeee? Gameplay Overview: Chumlee’s Adventure is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up in the style of the NES black box classic Kung Fu. You play as Chumlee, longtime employee of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, desperate for a day off with his dog Pinky. But before he gets a break, he’ll have to fight through waves of customers and their wares, as well as his coworkers Antwaun, Corey, Rick, and more, or else it’s back to WORK! Gameplay is simple: move left and right with the respective d-pad buttons, duck by pushing down, jump with the A button, and attack with the B button. Chum has other attacks up his sleeve if he attacks while jumping or ducking. If you feel like challenging a friend, the 2-player mode allows you to swap every time you die so can have a high score challenge. The game’s heads up display has some helpful info for you. There are the 1st and 2nd player scoreboards, sandwiching a high score ally for those looking to one-up themselves. The Player life bar shows Chumlee’s health and the Boss life bar displays each floor’s boss’ life. The four squares indicate which floor you’re currently on so you can track your progress. The Chum head marks how many lives you have left, while the Pinky icon denotes how many times you’ve looped the game (though something interesting begins to happen for truly dedicated players who play long enough). Finally, the timer ticks down how long you have to complete each floor, boss included, lest you dawdle too long admiring what’s behind the display cases and on the shelves in the background. Gameplay gif from Chumlee’s Adventure Writer’s Review: Chumlee’s Adventure provides a fun, straightforward beat ‘em up that elevates its Kung Fu inspiration. This is a game that is fun to play and stays replayable while remaining faithful to the simplicity of an early black box game. Gameplay features a good range of moves to dispatch an unending stream of enemies that will keep players on their toes while maintaining a good balance of difficulty. Boss battles are challenging pattern puzzles, bringing in a fun taste of the Pawn Stars cast’s personalities. The real risk is that you might lose a life having a laugh at how creatively each boss battle is designed. Meanwhile the final boss battle adds a kind of puzzle that leverages the developers’ deep knowledge of gaming tropes to offer something a little different within the game. Each stage is fairly short, encouraging you to want to loop the game again and again (assuming you’re figured out each boss’ pattern) as you search the shelves of the store and everywhere else imaginable for the famed easter egg. Chumlee’s graphics are a great 8-bit rendering of the show, from the shop itself to its colorful employees. Licensed games used to have a reputation that cultivated a campy “so bad it’s good” love, if not outright disappointment, but Jon’s graphics probably make all of the Pawn Stars cast wish they had a full-sized poster of their 8-bit portraits. Meanwhile Thomas’ music builds on the sounds of the original Kung Fu with his usual flair, making Chumlee’s Adventure a black box soundtrack with a rock ‘n roll makeover. While the regular stage music is playful, it maintains a serious tone that helps you concentrate. Boss battles have a more tense vibe (which Kung Fu never had), followed by a dance-in-your-seat jam to help you celebrate conquering another stage. Interviews: Having already interviewed each member of the development team about their backgrounds for previous episodes, I decided to take this opportunity to check in with everyone and ask some different questions for a change. If you’d like to read those previous interviews, see below! Kevin Hanley- Interview from The Assembly Line Jon Piornack- Interview from 8-Bit Xmas 2020 Thomas Cipollone- Interview from Anguna: Scourge of the Goblin King KHAN Games @atonofglaciers -It’s great to interview you again! Last time we chatted about the Assembly Line, and I’m excited to dive more into your dev work. How have you been since we last chatted? Pretty good! I got hired to do another decently sized project, so I have been doing a lot of preliminary stuff with Jon from Peek-a-Brews! To figure out exactly how we want to tackle things, but it’s always exciting to start something new. We get that great rush of adrenaline coming up with things we want to do before the grim reality sets in of how hard it will be. -How did your relationship with the people at Pawn Stars come about? Where did this game begin? Were you a fan of the show beforehand? Had you ever visited Rick Harrison's Gold & Silver Pawn Shop? Deniz Kahn, who had been on Pawn Stars a couple times as the resident expert of sealed games, is a friend of mine and I guess when he was talking with the people there about retro games and the booming collector scene, they thought it might be a good idea to have a game made. Deniz dropped my name and they followed up with me through my website. Initially I thought it was a joke because I really was a fan of the show. I actually watched it for many years beforehand, back when I lived in Colorado. I never made it out to Las Vegas to visit the shop, but knowing I was working on a game for people I was a fan of was an interesting situation to be in. -Chumlee’s Adventure marks yet another licensed homebrew game, after Jay & Silent Bob: Mall Brawl. Does the homebrew scene feel different to you, as either someone who worked on this game, someone who creates homebrew in general, or even as a player, as a result of these licensed, commissioned projects? Well, I think this is a few different questions packed into one so I’m not entirely sure how to answer. Yes, the homebrew scene definitely feels different now days. Back when projects were initially being made with the intention to produce and distribute them it was more of a fun “let’s see if I can do this” kinda project and the community felt much smaller. You were selling every new game you made to the same 200-300 people, which was great. You had a personal connection to the people who were enjoying the things you did. Things are much bigger now, both in scope of games and in the size of the audience on the receiving end, so it’s much less personal, but there are certainly pros and cons of both sizes. At the end of the day we want the most people playing our games as we can get, but it is at the expense of personal connection, so I think something is getting lost as the years go by. But this could also be the byproduct of forums going away. Social media feeds are just too cluttered to feel truly connected. -Chumlee’s Adventure’s gameplay channels Kung Fu, a game I was addicted to as a kid. Was that a game you especially loved in the past? -What was the working dynamic like in your collaboration with Chumlee and Blurry Sprites, as well Jon and Thomas? What was the division of labor on Chumlee’s Adventure, and how was the development process between members of the team? I was never personally a fan of Kung Fu. Early black box games seem pretty archaic to me in many ways, so when I sit down to play an NES game, I typically jump ahead to some of the more advanced stuff. But Blurry Sprites came into the project knowing they wanted their game to be based off of Kung Fu, which made it easier for us (Jon, Thomas and myself) because we had a concrete idea of a starting point and the direction we wanted to take it. Screenshot from Kung Fu The working dynamic was nice because they (Chumlee and Blurry Sprites) really gave us the freedom to do what we wanted with the game, other than having it be based on Kung Fu. But the three-month deadline went well with the archaic, smaller nature of the game. Jon did the artwork, I did the programming, and Thomas did the music and sound effects. It was a pretty basic distribution of “WORK!” -What is it like developing a game containing such cultural icons as the cast of Pawn Stars? Did you have a different attitude toward developing Chumlee’s Adventure compared to developing games for your own intellectual property? Is the experience of developing them different? Does playing within the sandbox of real people as video game characters impose limits on what you can do with them? I think developing games based on real life people (or at least caricatures of people) is even more fun than creating entirely fictional characters because you can take quirks or personality traits that they’re known for and play with those a bit. The one drawback of being hired to do a project is you don’t get the final say in what something turns out to be in the end. They gave us a ton of freedom, but at the end of the day they had the final say in things so there were one or two things that we were super stoked on that they wound up taking out. Mostly out of fear of “what if” situations. You never know what is going to offend someone these days and I don’t blame them for wanting to be cautious. Chum Fu would have been a great name though. -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in developing Chumlee’s Adventure as opposed to NEScape or Larry and the Long Look for a Lucious Lover from a programming perspective? This was the first project that introduced enemies coming onto the screen from offscreen that I had done, so it was an interesting puzzle of trying to decide if I wanted them to appear in the same spot each time, or if I wanted to go the timer route and have them appear at the same TIME every game, but at different points in the level depending on how quickly the player is playing. I wound up going this direction in the end because it allows for a little more variety and change each new time the player is playing. It was also the first game I did that had boss fights, so it was interesting trying to program each of those along with the different hitboxes with the different moves Chumlee can do. He is wider when he’s jumping or squatting so I didn’t do nearly enough planning in my code to code that stuff well. -TheMetalBeast was the first to find a special Easter Egg in the game and won a fun prize in the process. Are there other, as yet undiscovered secrets still waiting to be found? With the three-month deadline we didn’t have a lot of time to put too much special stuff in, so while I won’t confirm or deny that there might be some other goodies in there that haven’t been found yet, there isn’t too much more. Ironic considering the point of the game is to escape work -There was a lot of buzz around Chumlee’s Adventure when it launched on Kickstarter, with some of the limited-edition tiers selling out right away. How does it feel to bask in such enthusiasm and support? I’m always blown away with the people who support the projects I do. That was my second Kickstarter project so I was always curious if the first one’s success was a fluke, but the people who have supported me through the years yet again came out in full force and pushed us over the funding goal super quickly. I am honestly humbled by it. I truly appreciate everyone who cares about the stuff I do. -On top of the excitement on Kickstarter, Pawn Stars showed off Chumlee’s Adventure on an episode of the show, after a customer came in with a very interesting cabinet loaded with several of your other games. What was it like seeing your games on a TV show with such high viewership, and then see Chumlee himself playing your game? I can’t overstate how much of a big deal this was to me. My dad is a huge fan of the show, so when he found out something I did was going to be on it he was looking forward to it a lot. A LOT. It might have been the proudest he’s ever been of me. Or maybe it was just the first thing I’ve ever done that he could relate to on some tangible level. But a lot of my family and extended family were tuned in watching, and I was personally watching it with a few of my friends. I knew the game was going to be featured, and they had asked me to send them a few of my games ahead of time because they didn’t want to go through getting approval to show licensed games, so I knew they were using my games, but I didn’t know in what context. So in that sense it was scary not knowing exactly how they were going to present my games. But when the show was on and they actually namedropped me… I don’t know. It was just a really emotional night. Tears of happiness were shed. I was receiving texts and calls and the whole thing was just really surreal. One of the best nights of my life, for sure. I’ll never be able to thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this project. The fact that it wasn’t just briefly shown, but almost the entire episode wrapped around NES games… it was so special. A really big night for homebrew for sure. Now THAT’S what I call a shout out -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon, NES or otherwise? Any dream projects? Like I said previously I recently got hired to make a new game for the guy who does the Onyx the Fortuitous videos. I’m really excited about this project because we’re going to be tackling some more things I’ve never done so it will push all of us, hopefully to new levels of awesomeness. I dunno. Satan’s cool. As for my dream project, I don’t know. I really want to get back to finishing Courier, Jon’s dream project. The longer we’ve worked on that game the more I am starting to think it’s turning into my dream project also. It’s going to be such a great game! Everything about this image is so right -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play since we last spoke? Mostly everything I’ve wanted to be play has come out at this point, but Full Quiet and Orange Island are high on my list! -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? It’s pronounced “gif”. -If you could be recruited for the next licensed homebrew game based on another pillar of pop culture, what would you want it to be? There might be a project coming up related to professional skateboarding which is another huge interest of mine. Can’t wait to say more as the details materialize. Peek-A-Brews! @peekabrews -It’s great to interview you again! Last time we chatted about your work on 8-Bit Xmas 2020, and I’m excited to talk to you again. How have you been since we last chatted? Thanks, I am glad to be back! To be honest, this year has been a bit of a rollercoaster but I think it’s on the way up so I won’t jinx it by boring you with the details. I will say, however, that these homebrew projects and the people I have been working with have been a constant positive during all of it. I am thankful for that. And I hope all is well with you! -What is it like working on a game containing such cultural icons as the cast of Pawn Stars? It’s surreal. I feel like I am going to use that word often, even with new projects that are still in the pipeline, but it is the most accurate word to describe it. To say that I helped make a game for a popular TV show this early on is just crazy to me. -Were you a fan of the show beforehand? Had you ever visited Rick Harrison's Gold & Silver Pawn Shop? I was never a die-hard fan but I definitely watched it when it first came out and I still catch segments that interest me on YouTube to this day. You know, Las Vegas is not my first choice for a vacation, but I found myself there at least four times in my life and I have never been to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. Kevin and I entertained the idea of visiting during the Kickstarter campaign but it never panned out. -Chumlee’s Adventure marks yet another licensed homebrew game, after Jay & Silent Bob: Mall Brawl. Does the homebrew scene feel different to you, as either someone who worked on this game, someone who creates pixel art for homebrew in general, or even as a player, as a result of these licensed, commissioned projects? If I were to analyze it from all three of those perspectives, I think I would come to the same conclusion, and it’s that the scene is getting more exciting to me. I am excited to see what the next licensed game will be, I am excited to play the next licensed game, and I am excited to work on another licensed game. I am not saying that developers should only focus on licensed games now. Even if that was possible, it would be stupid to put all of our original ideas aside. I am just saying that it adds a bit of fun, mystery, and hopefully more validity to what we do. -Chumlee’s Adventure’s gameplay channels Kung Fu, a game I was addicted to as a kid. Was that a game you especially loved in the past? Actually, it wasn’t a game I loved as a kid. I remember playing it and thinking it was repetitive and too difficult. I don’t know, maybe it was a situation where I played something like Ninja Gaiden first and that ruined it for me. I really should’ve given it more of a chance, though, because I had fun playing it as “research” for Chumlee’s Adventure. -What was the working dynamic like in your collaboration with Kevin and Thomas, as well as Chumlee and Blurry Sprites? I have so many things to thank Kevin for again. Not only did he recommend me for the job, but he pretty much handled all the communication with everyone else. He is very easy going and a pleasure to work with. I specifically remember having some fun brainstorming sessions about who the bosses would be and how they would attack. I think we both got a kick out of having backward controls for Dark Chumlee and making the player position him into the falling fan hazards. What I quickly learned about Thomas is that I will never worry about the music when he is on board. Man, he is good at what he does. Did you get a chance to hear the last track on Beyond the Pins? So good. Title screen from Beyond the Pins, product of The Assembly Line Game Jam 2021 -Did you have a different attitude toward creating pixel art for Chumlee’s Adventure compared to previous projects? Does the experience of designing art for a game revolving around real people affect your creative process? I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous. I felt there was more of a chance for someone to criticize the graphics because it did involve an actual place and real people. It wouldn’t be something that I could just chalk up to interpretation. That might sound silly to someone else because we are talking about graphics on the NES, but I take it seriously and I wanted to do it justice. The two things that helped a lot in that respect was having a short deadline and the game being a Kung Fu clone. If I had too much time to work on it, it probably wouldn’t have had that early black box feel to it. -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in working on Chumlee’s Adventure? I guess the challenge was making the game in a small amount of time and the surprise was that it was shelved for a year due to the pandemic. Weird times. -There was a lot of buzz around Chumlee’s Adventure when it launched on Kickstarter. On its page Kevin gave you a shoutout for your previous collaboration on NEScape. How does it feel to be such a prominent pixel artist? Oh that’s just Kevin talking me up! There is so much more for me to learn and hopefully people enjoy what I make along the way. -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon, NES or otherwise? Any dream projects? There are a few, actually. I am doing backgrounds for a game being made by Sergio and the Holograms (A Winner Is You). I don’t think he is ready to announce anything specific just yet though. Kevin, Thomas, and I have been hired for another licensed game we will be starting very soon. Also, I just got word from Brian (retroUSB) on what the next 8-Bit Xmas game will be. And finally, I will always have my game Courier sprinkled in between there until it’s done. So, lots of cool stuff. It's the most wonderful time of the year! There’ll be blinky lights glowing, and chiptunes a’ flowing, like Xmases long long ago! -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play since we last spoke? I am excited to get my hands on Anguna: Scourge of the Goblin King. I was backer #1 for that baby! And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Full Quiet and Orange Island. -If you could be recruited for the next licensed homebrew game based on another pillar of pop culture, what would you want it to be? Oh, that’s a good question but I think I’ll keep this one close to the chest. I wouldn’t want anyone beating me to the punch on an approachable license that I’m interested in. -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? I would just like to say thanks to anyone that has supported, played, or helped spread the word about any project that I have been a part of. I really appreciate it. Fun fact: I put an Easter Egg in NEScape! that Kevin hasn’t found yet. Humanthomas @thehumanthomas -It’s great to interview you again! Last time we chatted about your work on Anguna Zero, now titled Anguna: Scourge of the Goblin King, and I’m excited to talk to you again. How have you been since we last chatted? I have been doing well! Mostly just trying to survive and do my part in finishing up Full Quiet. We are getting a lot of good feedback from early testers! -What is it like working on a game containing such cultural icons as the cast of Pawn Stars? Working on the Pawn Stars game was really fun. I never expected to get mail directly from the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, but that was a nice perk of working with them. -Were you a fan of the show beforehand? Had you ever visited Rick Harrison's Gold & Silver Pawn Shop? I hadn't watched the show in quite a while before we started working on Chumlee's Adventure, but I made sure to tune in for our episode -Chumlee’s Adventure marks yet another licensed homebrew game, after Jay & Silent Bob: Mall Brawl. Does the homebrew scene feel different to you, as either someone who worked on this game, someone who composes for homebrew in general, or even as a player, as a result of these licensed, commissioned projects? I think it is awesome that NES homebrew is getting this level attention. Most folks probably don't even realize you can still turn on an NES, let alone develop for it. -Chumlee’s Adventure’s gameplay channels Kung Fu, a game I was addicted to as a kid. Was that a game you especially loved in the past? We had a copy of KUNG FU HEROES but not the original Kung Fu. So, I missed the boat until adulthood. Screenshot from Kung Fu Heroes -What was the working dynamic like in your collaboration with Kevin and Jon, as well as Chumlee and Blurry Sprites? Kevin and I already had a really solid working relationship going into this project. All super positive folks that get shit done!! -Did you have a different attitude toward creating music for Chumlee’s Adventure compared to previous projects? Does the experience of composing music for a game revolving around real people make a different atmosphere for your creative process? I think the most important thing for a game like this is context. This game doesn't take itself too seriously and is a pretty casual experience. I wanted to use the reference material of Kung Fu but add my style to it. I think that was achieved. -What new challenges or surprises surfaced in composing music for Chumlee’s Adventure? This was the first game that I used the DPCM Sample channel for. I had a friend record the "WORK!" sample that bosses scream at you... it turned out really funny. -There was a lot of buzz around Chumlee’s Adventure when it launched on Kickstarter. Before that, you were featured on a special episode of The Assembly Line celebrating your work. How does it feel to be regarded as one of THE go-to chiptune composers for homebrew? Recording that episode with Kevin and Beau was a blast. It is a great honor to be considered reliable and trustworthy to work with-- and will take this opportunity to inform your readers that my commissions are OPEN. I can write for other systems too! NES to Modern! Let's make a game! -Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon, NES or otherwise? Any dream projects? Currently I am focusing on finishing up Full Quiet with Retrotainment, I've picked up further responsibilities beyond just music for that game. Beyond that, I have some other commissions and some other projects that I might not be able to talk about. It’s just on the horizon! -Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play since we last spoke? As a puzzle fan, I look forward to the final version of Witch n' Wiz. -If you could be recruited for the next licensed homebrew game based on another pillar of pop culture, what would you want it to be? My first reaction was Seinfeld but that seems like a creative dead end... then I thought Twin Peaks.. my brain is stuck in the early 90s apparently. -I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans? Any time! Thank you for spreading the good word. I recently rewrote nearly all of the Full Quiet soundtrack, I am wondering if people would be interested in a cartridge release of what was originally intended to be the soundtrack? I don't want those to be lost forever. Let me know, folks! Conclusion: Thanks for tuning in to this latest episode of the series that takes deep dives into new homebrew games coming across the finish line that you ought to add to your collection. What are your thoughts on Chumlee’s Adventure: The Quest for Pinky and its veteran development team? What would you like the next licensed homebrew to be about? What homebrews are you eagerly looking forward to? Perhaps you’ll see it here soon when…A Homebrew Draws Near! Command?
  24. I am surprised to see a copy of this go for that much. From what I recall, it had a custom mapper so it couldn't be dumped. Or the ROM isn't out there online to play. This game is definitely one of the better homebrew games for the NES developed. I think about 100 copies were made by 87Arts. The early copies were Limited Edition and you could opt for custom text. They also had a unique number coded on the title screen. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Star-keeper-nes-homebrew-game-nintendo-CIB-Complete-rare-tested-/254327462715?hash=item3b37191b3b%3Ag%3AL1EAAOSwC4FdUAdr&nma=true&si=ig6XI4XlG4Lr6Jb3x%2Fzi3vRSLOc%3D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557
  25. I ported Locomalito's L'Abbaye des morts for the NES and now it's got a physical release thanks to Broke Studio. You have a chance to play it for the 1st time on your console or to play it again with that NES vibe we love. NES version: https://www.brokestudio.fr/product/labbaye-des-morts-nes/ FC version: https://www.brokestudio.fr/product/labbaye-des-morts-fc/
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